July 23, 2009

Lazy, Hazy or Crazy, Dazy?

A random comment with another writer friend inspired today's post.

Gone are the days of "nothing to do". Today's parent strives to provide every opportunity for their child. No child is denied the chance to participate in anything that strikes their fancy. I don't even consider my children particularly busy, but their activities do demand a great deal of their time.

The younger one is on a softball team. That starts in April and goes through the end of June. There were usually 3 games a week. With only 11 girls on the team, missing a game needed a good excuse. Missing more than a game was a ticket to warming the bench. So we didn't miss.

My older one is in the marching band and on the cross country team. We were informed that the 4th of July parade counted toward their grade. We also were informed that band camp begins August 1st and that it is mandatory. Cross country training began in late June, but is not mandatory until August 1st also. The band director and cross country coach have coordinated the practice schedules so she will have a half hour between the two. I have pages of colored calendars and websites to cross reference. There are days I think I need a spreadsheet to keep track of where children need to be and when. One day, I logged 70 miles on my car and never went more than 5 miles from my house.

I contrast this with my own childhood. We lived on a small farm. We had our chores, naturally. We had animals to feed in the morning and the gardens to weed or pick sometime during the day. But I remember the afternoons spent lying underneath a willow tree by the creek, making daisy chains. I remember the kick ball games that all the kids who were close enough to ride their bikes would meet at our house. I remember mud pies and fishing poles.

What I don't remember is a shuttle service, an activity driven summer of running from one activity to the next. I don't remember wishing for a day off. I don't remember having to get to bed early because I had to get up for practice the next morning. We would run around catching fireflies, playing flashlight tag, and telling ghost stories.

I wonder when we became afraid of unstructured days and nights. I wonder when we became afraid of having down time. I wonder when it went out of vogue to give your children the luxury of free time. But mostly... I wonder, why it is considered a luxury?


  1. Great perspective, Kim! It seems the more our activities (and time) are organized, the less time we really have. Oh, to have the time back when we didn't HAVE to spend time, but GOT TO spend time. What a way to live!

  2. (Don't forget 4-square!)
    And be thankful your band camp starts 8/1. Mine has been going for half a day since 7/7!

  3. You definitely need to schedule some regular time for them under that willow tree. And maybe even join them there! We didn't do as much of that scheduling as most other parents did, and I think our daughters are turning out great.

  4. "You definitely need to schedule some regular time for them under that willow tree."

    I'd say don't schedule it. ;-)

    I remember being able to do nothing in particular for days at a time when I was younger. I still take that rest sometimes if even for one day here and there. It's essential for my mental health and creativity.

  5. Pat, welcome to my "bakery" (get it, Fresh Daily Bread to compliment my Daily Green). The bread isn't green, though! Yes, we actually practice the art of doing nothing scheduled. Today is such a day. Hammock, check. Sunshine, check. Magazines, check. Backyard picnic? Check

    Steve, welcome to you also! I agree whole heartedly about less scheduled time. I thought I was doing well with only "one" activity rule, but then one overlapped with another. Oy vey. Luckily we have a few more weeks of breathing space.

    Punkin, how could I ever forget our famous 4-square hours on end? Do you remember volleyball in the backyard too? When "Kingpin" used to yell at all the kids? Living there was how I came to love certain things about suburban life. Thank you for being part of those days(daze)!

    Rev, the only think in life we cannot buy is more time. So it's important to cherish what we do get, huh?

  6. re the five mile radius: too funny, I tell my pal who has kids that his whole life is in a 5 mile "containment zone" school, shopping, parents, church etc..love the fact that you are not alone!

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  8. Good evening

    Great share, thanks for your time

  9. Hi - I am certainly delighted to discover this. Good job!


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