Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Extra Curricular Stress

Middle class?  I bet, if your children are little, you take them to swimming lessons.  You might ferry them to music lessons too (piano maybe, or possibly flute - although I hear that the oboe is soooooo in this year).  Then there's the whole raft of sporting activities; athletics, netball, football, rugby, tennis.  Plus drama club of course.  Code club, obviously.  Not forgetting Rainbows, Brownies, Cubs and Scouts...

And so the list goes on.

A mother of younger children said to me the other day, "Of course, I've got to take little Nettie to swimming, then netball and THEN archery.  Phew!  But of course - you know how it is."

Actually, I don't anymore.  Over the last year or two, my boys have dropped almost everything.  Between them, they used to do swimming, piano, trumpet, code club, tennis, rugby, cricket, cubs and scouts.

And now only cricket remains.

When my husband and I split, I told my boys that they didn't have to do any extra clubs or activities that they didn't want to do.  They both immediately dropped piano.

Now, let me give you a bit of context here.  Music is important to me.  My background is embedded in music.  I am musical.

My ex husband is not.

My eldest played with grace and style and I pushed him through his grades as if I was Mozart's Dad.  My boy is going to be a concert pianist, I thought.

Well, I was wrong.

My youngest played the piano with fists like hams so when he decided to stop playing I did not try to cajole him back to the ivories; but my eldest?  Oh, woe...what wasted talent!  There was much wringing of hands (me) and rejoicing (him) - but sadly, I haven't managed to convince him to come back to what I consider to be his true calling.

In his view, his true calling starts and ends with an 'x'.  He has not only dropped piano, but the whole gamut of clubs too, and so his world has narrowed to School - Xbox - Bed, with eating and the occasional piece of homework thrown in.

My youngest son recently gave up tennis - beloved tennis, with hunky and caring coaches - and his head coach phoned me to ask him to come back.  "Don't worry about the money," he said to me, "he's really good!"

When someone tells you that your child is good at something, it's like they've told you direct that YOU are good at it.  No, actually it's better, because you believe them rather than shuffling it under the carpet in a genteel but faintly embarrassed English fashion.  You believe that your child is good at it, because it's what you expected all along!  He's just confirming what you know is true!  Your child is the next Andy Murray/Johnny Wilkinson/Rebecca Adlington/Mozart!

So after this phone call, I pleaded with my youngest to go back to tennis.  "PLEEEEEEEEASE" I wheedled, on my knees. "You don't know what this means to me...."  My eleven year old looked at me with disgust.  "Grow up, mum," he said.

I asked my ex husband to back me up.  He just shrugged and said, in front of the children, "It's not up to us.  It's up to him."

Imagine how my mouth changed shape.  It looked like a cat's arse.

And so, with all the other clubs thrown into the gutter (Scouts included - what's not to like about tents and campfires, marshmallows and 18 mile night hikes in the pouring rain with leaky shoes?  Oh.  Right.), only cricket for my youngest remains.

He will be playing cricket until he is 18.  He will be Schools - nay, County - nay, National - champion.  He will be the next Stuart Broad.

He will give it up next term.



  1. Now I feel bad - the only thing JJ has ever done was one term's worth of Little Kickers! I do feel duty bound to force him into scouting when he turns six though as I was a very happy Brownie and then, after a gap of some years, a very happy Venture Scout! Those were the days, getting drunk in tents in the former Yugoslavia.... ooh and right up your alley (I was an "Air" venture scout) flying chipmunks with retired RAF pilots and throwing up in a Hercules (it was FOOD POISONING, alright?!) My step daughter (who is nine) seems to do everything though, from drama school to (very full on) swimming, ballet and pony riding. God knows where the money comes from. My nieces were both put through all the groups too and the youngest dropped Stage Coach at the first possible opportunity (though she is still learning electric guitar) - the rest of it is Japanese anime and cute kitten videos on You Tube... Still my sister is still getting to live her dream vicariously through her eldest who had a starring role in Guys and Dolls recently (at school).

    1. An Air Venture Scout? Can't believe I haven't pushed my boys down this channel yet. Thanks for the tip off! [starts singing Dambusters music...]

  2. You have to be 16 Lottie so you've got a couple of years to implant the idea!


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