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Thursday, August 24, 2006

The General Busy-ness of the American Family

Yes, the first week back at school this seems like an oddly appropriate title. I'm proud of my daughter and all of her accomplishments. I'm proud of her for trying new things, making new friends. But I worry about her being overscheduled.

My line of thinking has been as long as she enjoys it, it's OK. At the first sign of her NOT enjoying it, I pay attention and evaluate. There comes a point where you have to say this is not working for my child.

I have gone in to soccer with an open mind, but worried that she'll hate it. So far, she loves it. The day after her first practice she said, "Can we go to soccer today?" Watching her play, she shows signs of her mother's obsessive perfectionism, wanting to perfectly get the ball down the field. With carefully placed kicks, and gentle nudging, she gets there eventually. She's definitely a lot more gentle than the others, who are none too shy to kick the ball hard. She even got hit in the hand with the ball and I *know* that hurts- she didn't even cry, like she would've last year, the year before. She's tough now, brave.

However, if there comes a day when she hates going to soccer, when she gets like me and ditches practice because she'd rather chat with her best friend, I won't force her to go. She has enough activities to fill all our days, all our free time. There comes a time when you have to let children just BE children, and play. It's good to see her play, I *love* watching her play on the playground, or play with her toys. I love the little stories and games she creates. I love her artwork, watching her create something she dreamed about last night.

We recently took her out of dance. Not because she didn't enjoy it, because she certainly did, but we had to draw the line somewhere. She can't do *everything*. I was sad to take her out of dance, but we had to make room for soccer. She has to prioritize her activities, or rather, we do. I asked her what she liked better, soccer or dance, and she said, "Definitely soccer". We'll see what her answer is after a few games have been played... She wants to add on art lessons. We just don't have the time. We keep a list of her "wishes", and someday hopefully there will be time for art lessons. Just not now.

She came home last night with her first homework of the school year. A math book so large it looked like a book I carried in college. The weight of it dragged her shoulders down. A foreshadowing of the years of school ahead. I remind you she is only in third grade.

This new school schedule and activity schedule is going to take all of us a little while to get adjusted. We're all making new friends, trying new things. We're supporting her, volunteering in our community, and hopefully making a difference.

But just in case, when she becomes tired, stressed, worried- we pull back. It's all about her happiness, her well-being.

For more on what others say about children today being over-scheduled:

Let Kids Be Kids
Overscheduled Kids


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