Monday, January 19, 2009

Shame On Me

I'll admit, I am a terrible person. I have horribly neglected my little corner of the internet here and am freshly dedicated to being a better human. Okay, self-flagellation over.

We're in full winter mode here, along with high basketball season. My advice to any and all, do whatever it takes to have your kids on the same schedule! We've spent the past few weekends driving hell bent for leather to make both kids' games on time. Last Saturday was some kind of record, the morning spent at the farthest eastern school in the conference and the afternoon in the farthest west end of the conference. All this to watch our offspring run back and forth...over and over and over again. Between games, practices and two divergent work schedules, I need photo ID before I let any of these people into the house. I vaguely remember a time when we were all home in the evenings, meals were eaten together at the table and not in the car or in the living room at 9:00. The really scary part in that my kids aren't overscheduled. I have always refused to have the boys in more than one or two activities per season. I've never understood the parents who insist on making sure their child's every waking moment is scheduled. Do you suppose it's more the parents than the children? Do we fear having any down time with our kids? Do we think they're going to be come criminals if they have a spare moment?

My biggest peeve about this trend is "play dates". Play dates, seriously? We have gotten to the point that we have to orchestrate time for our kids to hang out with their friends? What happened to "Can I go out and play?" Growing up, I lived in a neighborhood that was bursting with kids. Our family of four girls was about average size. We had a couple of families with about 50 kids each, but four or five was the norm. We ran as a pack and the neighborhood was our playground. We all knew when Mrs. Brandt rang the huge school bell in their backyard, it was time for everyone to get home. She'd ring it for suppertime and then, during the summer months, she'd ring it again just before dark and we all knew the signal. This definitely cut down on various names being shouted from front porches. Even when the Brandt family was gone, someone would go into the yard to ring the bell, that was the neighborhood shout out. I don't know how many games of "Ditch" we played while out parents whiled away the evening on one front porch or the other, how many times we'd lose someone completely because no one ever knew just who or how many of us were playing at any given moment. I can remember a bunch of us looking high and low for one particular kid before someone realized he was at camp and hadn't been around for several days. I don't know if that sort of thing even goes on anymore because we spend so much of our time away from our neighborhoods. We moved into a new neighborhood in July and I still don't know the names of either of the neighbors nest to us. This isn't snobbery or unfriendliness, it's simply a lack of opportunity to get to know each other between lessons, practices or "playdates" (insert sneering tone here).