Out of School Activities

Mark Parenting, Popular 8 Comments

It was a conspiracy of guilt that made me take him.

Firstly I was doorstepped by a Mori pollster who wanted to question me about the out of school activities my boys did. When I said nothing she gave me a look of disgust like she’d just noticed I was naked but for a gimp mask.

Then there was the mum on the school playground who asked if I had their names down on the waiting list for Beavers. Waiting list? When did Beavers become the Groucho Club?

When I said no, but I’d make a mental note to get their name down in time for Scouts, she looked at me like I was speaking in satanic tongues.

She listed the activities her child did. Gymnastics, Rainbows, swimming, drama, Beavers, pretentiousness, tap dance, quantum physics, ballet … I might have made some of those up.

“So, what do your boys do?”

I wiped the dribble off my chin. This is what happens when I get confused. Surely that list was longer than there are days in the week?

“Erm …”

Thankfully I was saved by the school bell, because all I had was Gangnam style, flicking bogeys and swapping song lyrics with the word fart.

And then there’s Janet. Huge advocate of the after-school club and a firm believer that chasing each other around the house with swords doesn’t qualifying as extra curricular activity?

Which is why I found myself stood on a sodden field, at some god awful hour of a Saturday morning, watching a group of five-year old lemmings aimlessly chasing shadows where once there was a football.

How did it go? Well there were plenty of tears, and they weren’t all mine.

“Why do I have shin-pads but no face pads?”

“Because it’s called football, you use your feet not your face”

Ten minutes later he kicked the ball into his own face.

“Why do I have to wear shorts, it’s freezing!”

“Because you’ll warm up as you run around” I shouted, winding the car window back up to keep the heat in.

“Why do I have to wear studs?”

“For grip, you’ll get used to them.”

… Or not. He tackled himself more than he did the ball, and after scraping them down the back of his own calf for the third time in as many minutes we called it a day.

“I don’t want to go to football again”, he muttered as we walked off the pitch.

I wanted to say ‘neither do I’, but I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I would have done had I not just slipped down the muddy embankment into a ditch of dog shit!

So we all took away lessons from the misery. I’ve learnt to trust my better, if a little lackadaisical judgement. I’ve nothing against out of school activities but at four and five I don’t see what the rush is?

Sonny learnt that a wet ball in a cold face REALLY hurts.

Luca learnt with great disappointment that he’d missed seeing his brother kick a ball into his own face.

And Janet learnt that if she wants them to take on more activities she’s going to have to do it herself, starting this morning with martial arts at the local leisure centre.

But that’s not to say I won’t still offer encouragement. I’ll wait to see if my wipe on, wipe off, Karate Kid pep talk did them any good. More probably Sonny will have kicked himself in the face. Again.

And for the record, I didn’t really sit in the car while he played football. Apparently you can bring your banned breed of rabid dog onto the field but not the warm embrace of a heated car!? At least not unless it’s still smouldering from being dumped and burnt out there the previous night.

Comments 8

  1. Nice post. I’m sooo looking forward to this one-upmanship when Baby L starts going to school. To be fair, I’ve probably already experienced some of it with the incessant chatting on about ‘my baby sleeps through the night, does yours?’ etc. I think it’s important for kids to do activities, but I hope we can let her decide what she wants to do and what she’s interested in. I remember as a kid I was forced to play a musical instrument and go to cubs, and I don’t think I enjoyed it at all! 🙂

    1. I was the same with activities as a kid, hated all but football.
      I’m going with a ‘let them decide what they want to do’ approach. When I do become the activity taxi I’m sure I’ll be questioning why I ever tried to make them do anything so young.

  2. Aw, you’re brilliant. Must ‘fess up though – I’m guilty of overbooking my 6yo – mainly to minimise the opportunities for us to fall out and bicker with each other. The 3yo on the other hand is bereft of organised activity. Unless you bribe him with a new game on the iPad – he’d join in with anything for that (as well as sell his sister).

    1. You’re part of the conspiracy damn it.
      Sonny has decided he might like tennis so if I thought I’d got away with it for a year or so I was mistaken.
      Does ipad count as an extra curricular activity? If so I’m sorted!

  3. LOL!
    Great post!
    Take it from one who’s been there (albeit sat in a warm car – with the radio on) well, not all the time..when it was nice I watched from the bar.
    I’m a big believer in letting your child make the first move. If they come to you, eyes all ablaze, wafting a piece of paper at you, you can take it that they are genuinely interested – even if it only lasts the one session after you’ve spent a fortune on kit.
    No doubt I will attract the wrath of many parents for being like this but I watched Gypsy once – a film about an exceptionally pushy mother with stars in HER eyes and a daughter who turned out to be a stripper. Moral is – keep your trap shut and let them do their own thing.
    Maybe some gentle encouragement is needed from time to time but in all honesty I’ve seen too many pushy parents standing on a cricket boundary hollering at their poor kids. The children end up in tears (and resentful) and the parents just look like sad gits. They stand there, chewing gum, going red in the face – doing a ‘Fergie’. I’m proud to say that I’ve never done that. Be the rebel. Good luck, comrade. 😉

    1. Thanks, you can be my activity guru.

      There were a few touchline dads at the football, barking orders louder than their rabid dogs.
      If they would insist on trying to explain zonal marking to a 5yo they deserve the coronary they looked like they were about to suffer.

  4. As usual I laughed:) I’m all for the kids to tell when they want too be part of what ever after school. We love our afternoons as a family. We don’t need to rush our kids of to things. We also let our kids get play with toys and be outside. They are now 7 and 9 and they still play. As I write the play make believe:) Kids will go to afterschool things when they are ready I think but I might have it all wrong as I’m Danish;) Great post and I enjoyed it:)

    1. Thanks Mette. I totally agree with you. I too love the time we get at home after school, playing.
      That’s why I’m also not in any rush to get them farmed out to clubs and the like.
      There’s plenty of time for them to find their own interests and hobbies. I like the Danish perspective!

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