Since Jesse was about 5, I’ve dreamed of a time when she could handle after-school activities without degenerating into a strange, writhing, noisy mass of anxiety, panic, and tics. We tried a few different things when she was really little – ballet, soccer, music class, violin, gymnastics, ee tee see – and we consistently failed. I used to listen enviously to parents talking about sports leagues, gymnastics tournaments, regular play dates, horse riding lessons. None of it was for us.
Jesse broke me completely, leaving me ripe to catch an extreme case of second-child syndrome. I never signed Nick up for anything except private swim lessons. But this fall everything changed. We’re IN. Jesse joined the kids’ swim team at our gym and she takes diving lessons. She and Nick take private swim lessons and do tae kwon do.
This is a light load by a lot of modern parents’ reckonings, but I’m sub-standard. I think it’s insanity. Extracurriculars take up four weeknights for Jesse, two overlapping weeknights for Nick, Saturday mornings for both. The fifth weekday afternoon in Jesse’s schedule is reserved for the shrink. Then there are the little extras – belt testing, weekend tournaments, meets, random events. And the time I spend putting together bags and making sure everyone has their gear and snacks and so on. And also there’s the laundry, a solid 4 extra loads a week, which is like four straws on the broken laundry camel’s back.
Have I ever bothered to tell you just how MUCH laundry Jesse’s OCD generates? Some days I go into the laundry room in the basement, open the door of the laundry chute, and brace myself in numb horror as an avalanche of clothing quite literally crashes over me. My only wish in those moments is for no stanky underwear to touch my face.
And of course there’s the expense of all these activities. I’m spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month on basic fees, plus extras. I had to on-line-order the swim team uniform for Jesse. It cost FIFTY FOUR dollars (plus tax and shipping), but the European sizing is totally off the wall so the first suit I got her comes down to practically her mid-thigh. She tried to wear it anyway to a swim practice. She reported back that her boobs came out (she’s 9, it’s not a big deal yet) and the sag on her butt made it look like she pooped her pants (now that was untenable). So I had to order her another suit that’s smaller, and I can no longer return the giganto-suit, and that’s a lot of money down the drain.
Maybe I’ll just give Jesse the smaller swimsuit for Christmas.
Tae kwon do is even more of a budget sucker. Each time we do a belt test, it’s fifty bucks a pop. Tournament was seventy a pop. Now that we’re out of the virgin phase, we have to start sparring. That means sparring equipment times three (for me too). I ordered it last week during the studio’s 2-day sale. A whopping fifteen percent discount, so I only spent $580-something! Woo hoo!!
I think that shit is going under the tree too. The kids have been asking me to get them the sparring gear. I’ll just tell them we can’t afford it, and then they’ll be so happy on 12/25. I finally understand why parents give their kids socks and underwear for Christmas.
Why did I ever dream of extracurriculars? It’s almost enough to make me nostalgic for the days when Jesse was a complete lunatic. My Christmas shopping budget is feeling as cramped as my schedule.