Over the years, we've encouraged our boys to try different sports. I admit, there are some that we haven't tried, golf, hockey, and tennis, to name a few. But Trouble and LT have tried their hand at karate, dance classes, baseball, basketball, football, soccer and swim lessons, not to mention piano lessons, boy scouts and school band.
If they don't like sport then we don't make them sign up for it again. Trouble did one season of basketball and football and then didn't play again. Those two sports were definitely not for him. We made him stick out the season. Once you make a commitment to a team you should honor that commitment. With football that was downright painful for everyone involved.
There also have to be some limits about how many sports or activities they can do at one time. When LT is in football, there really isn't time for much else. Practices begin this Wednesday and for the rest of the summer he will be in practice five nights a week, two hours a night. Hopefully, practice doesn't conflict with cub scouts once school starts and they scale back to practice three nights a week. But he loves football, so we're willing to make that investment of our time. One or the other parent needs to be there for the duration of practice. Football is pretty intense, even when they're not yet into physical contact, and I'd hate for him to get hurt and neither of us be there.
However, we're working parents, and not just working parents but each of us with our own careers that we've invested ourselves in. If Blackstone has a town meeting to attend and the boys have practices or games at different fields, I have no choice but to leave each of them and do my best in volleying back and forth. How parents with more than two kids involved in sports and activities do it is beyond me. Especially, when we're talking different age groups and different activities.
Swim has proven to be particularly elusive for us. First of all, swim teams don't advertise. I had known there was a swim team at the YMCA that we have belonged to for over a decade, but had no idea what it was about. The only promotion they do is a board by the pool where they post winner's names and pictures. When we asked about signing Trouble up at the information desk, they told us they didn't have any information to give and that we had to email the swim coach. Since when does a gym not have information about its own programs? It was like I had just asked for directions to platform 9 and three-quarters.
Trouble tried out last fall but didn't make it. We inquired about try outs in the spring and were told to just sign him up. Okay . . . Great! Except . . . . He had to attend three out of five practices a week at 4:30 in the afternoon. And he was already signed up for baseball. And Blackstone was coaching his team. And even if it weren't for baseball, 4:30 in the afternoon! Ugh! Blackstone's hours are all over the place and I work until 4:30 and am 30+ minutes from home.
Swim team is definitely a rich person's sport. Or at least the sport of a kid with parents who work nontraditional hours or where one parent stays home. (Note: I do not mean to insinuate that staying home is not work. I know it is. However, it definitely affords opportunities for kids that can be very difficult to finagle when both parents work outside the home. And yes, my husband does work out of the house, but his office might as well be in Timbuktu most of the time for the flexibility it affords us when it comes to situations like this. It will inevitably be the day he spends 12 hours in the field, or the night he has to drive to Boston for a meeting at 7pm. Then I end up going to my boss sheepishly at the last minute to say I need to leave.)
So now we're trying for the third time. I'm not sure what his chances are since I seem to be gathering that fall is the competitive season, and it seems we'd have more luck come spring. So just to cover my bases, I'm also going to register him for two swim lessons a week to keep him practicing and help him continue to build his endurance. If he does make it, then I know I need to request to flex my hours a bit at work, which is slightly less awkward since I've been there over six months now and the big project should be launched at that point. One way or another, we'll find a way to make it work, even if I have to pay someone to drive him to the pool. But then you have to remember that all this craziness is just for one kid's activity and that LT will also be in football. I fully expect that there would be plenty of nights when Blackstone would have a meeting and I would need to pick Trouble up and drop LT off at the same time, in different towns, neither of which we live in. Not to mention we'll also be juggling cub scouts and boy scouts.
When the heck dinner would figure into this mess? I'd have to pack it in the morning and carry it with me, or pick up take-out in between the running from the pool to the football field, only getting home around 8:30 at night. And homework? They better get it done at daycare or in Trouble's case at home, because we have agreed to start letting him be home alone after school. He is in middle school after all. This has not been without its issues since we started in the spring, but that's another post.
We haven't even gotten into the games and meets yet either. I gather that swim meets are often on Sundays which is also game day for football.
It is no wonder parenting drives so many of us to drink. This isn't just the lazy parents either. If I were a lazy parent, I wouldn't need a drink so badly at the end of the day. It's because I try to balance so much that I drive myself to drink. It may be time for one now.