At curriculum night at Charlotte's school, every mom who signed up to volunteer for something pulled a giant organizer/coupon holder/wallet thing out of her purse. Why is it that big? What else should I be writing down? Why do I not understand the appeal of couponing?
At the bus stop another mom asked me if Charlotte wanted to take chess lessons after school with her daughter. I have nothing against chess. I actually like to play chess. But I was taught by my dad (who never let me win, by the way) and we didn't have to pay 250 bucks a month for the privilege. I'm sure that chess club would help her problem solving skills and her ability to think logically, but I kind of like it that she just comes home. She does her homework. Then she watches TV and then goes outside to play. I call them in for dinner by yelling and banging on the window. It's like my life in 1982 all over again, but without Stretch Armstrong.
Why must I be exposed to the parents who have their kids taking violin lessons and practicing their math skills on Saturdays? Chess Mom also showed me the "easy" 300 piece puzzle her 6-year-old had just put together. She said it was easy because, since it is of the United States, there are words all over it. Yes, but in order for that to be useful, you need to know where Montana is in relation to Tampa. What 6-year-old knows that? This kid also speaks Hebrew and can play the piano. Charlotte's only hope of becoming bilingual is if my mother begins teaching her Appalachian Hill People as a second language.
There are the kids on our neighborhood swim team who also take private swim lessons year round. There were the moms at gymnastics who had serious conversations about scholarship opportunities for college gymnasts. I constantly feel like maybe I'm holding back my kids' potential because I haven't signed up for enough stuff.
Don't get me wrong, they do have some outside activities. It's just that they are only allowed to have one at a time. And I don't assume that they will ever make any money off it, become smarter from it, or suddenly discover a latent superpower. I know that occasionally, making sure that your kid is constantly striving to do better at their extracurricular activity works out for them. Tiger Woods has been playing golf since he was 3 and he's made a little money. Britney Spears' mom had her singing and dancing by 5 or so as well. But, honestly, they both seem like pretty crappy spouses.
I'd rather have my slightly-above-average-intelligence children with healthy relationships and lifestyles than have them be super-rich. Maybe they can be both, but I'm not sure I can think of a billionaire who also seems to have normal kids. Maybe Warren Buffet, but I can guarantee that whatever his mom did, it didn't involve a giant calendar and chauffeuring her kids to 4 events a week. They probably only had one car anyway.
Like I decided yesterday, I'm going to try to stop the comparisons and make my decisions based on my own kids' needs and wants. I hope, when they're adults, they don't have to spend money on a therapist because I didn't challenge them enough. I can just hear them complaining, "I could have reached my full potential if only my mom had signed me up for soccer AND chess club at the same time." Even if they do, I'm certainly not paying for it.