Today is a Tuesday-twofer, and you will be receiving not the usual single scoop story, but a towering-double, served in a tasty sugar cone package.
First I’d like to set the stage: it’s a Tuesday evening, temperatures currently register at eighteen degrees, and Pittsburgh received our first semi-wallop of overnight snow. Even though the accumulation was less than staggering, a mere few inches, all neighborhoods and communities slowed to a crawl-like pace, as the roads were cleared. So those facts should immediately justify the following statement: it’s not prime weather for ice cream.
I’m sitting in the audience of a Christmas program for school. My two girls are participating in the band portion of the performance—GO FLUTE SECTION!—and I can’t wait to hear the concert. Each of them are pretty good on their respective instrument, and I’ve been hearing all of the individual songs over the last few months, albeit in small sections reserved for the flute only. This concert is an opportunity to experience all of the band members together, each instrument filling in a gap where another instrument leaves off.
As I wait for the show to start, I think about all of the programs that my two girls are involved in, including academic and athletic endeavors. Sometimes the amount of simultaneous commitments are too much to handle—running here and there, back home, and then being sent out on another transportation challenge. Basketball practice and games (especially away matches) always have to be balanced with required homework in the same evening. Then we must toss extracurricular activities into the mix, and what you really have is a constant state of busyness in the family. Yet, as parents, I believe that we bring this on, ourselves.
We wish the best for our kids, and that may be the problem. Although what we wish as “the best” may not be exactly that, but rather an unrealistic schedule that no one can keep or maintain for an extended period of time. Honestly, I think that we have the best intentions, although those intentions may be misplaced.
I want my kids to have great grades, therefore attention is placed on an academic career. If you want a good job, a house, a spouse, and 2.5 children when you grow up, you need good grades.
I want my kids to be active, and not a couch potato, like me. When they are forty, I don’t wish for them to be over-weight, like me. I want to instill good habits, healthy habits, regarding their diet. You don’t want to be addicted to donuts, when you’re my age.
As experts in “what is best for our kids”, what do we have to show for it, in our own lives? As an adult, what do we accomplish on our own? Do we play an instrument in our spare time, honing our skills with twenty minutes of daily practice? Do we take a deep interest in knowledge and the pursuit of learning new skills or facts? Are we disciplined enough to exercise on a regular basis, caring for our bodies? No, in fact, most of us do not: pure hypocrisy.
We sit on the couch, or in our leather recliner, playing mobile games on our iPhone, binge-watch Netflix shows, or any other numerous activities that drown out the life that is happening all around us.
Perhaps we wish we were our kids—more skilled, more talented, more active, more academic versions of ourselves—living vicariously through their accomplishments? Maybe they are a reflection of who we wish we were, but we cannot realistically be ourselves?
The concert has concluded, and I’m certainly ready to go home, although my daughters have plans of their own. They, and their two best friends, have decided that a visit to Baskin Robbins would be a proper celebration for tonight’s stellar band concert.
It’s eighteen degrees out, people—eighteen—yet, we are now in route to the ice cream store where single scoops, double scoops, and sundaes await.
The parents sit at one table, while the four best friends raise all kinds of noise from within the conversation pit and comfortable club chairs. The mother of the best friend(s) comments on how quickly they are all growing up, and I couldn’t agree more. Once they were four little girls, sharing common interests; now they are four little ladies. Moments such as these are meant to be cherished, as life for each of them is about to change rapidly.
At some point, your kid needs to realize that they can’t do everything: they can’t be in the band, be first string on the basketball team, and register as an academically stellar student. As your child finds their own distinct place in the world, focusing in on a specific interest, and defining a track for their future self, the parent’s role must change. We must guide our kids along a path that begins to omit extra activities and hobbies from a schedule of constant busyness.
This is my Tuesday-twofer for you, and you have just received a towering-double scoop, served in a tasty sugar cone package.