Let’s keep our kids so busy they turn like tops!

It’s a typical thing… and I guess we all get caught up in it.

The late part of August has parents thinking about Fall activities. The Y brings out its fall activity brochure; the City brings out its Department of Recreation programs. Thoughts turn to new classes at school, new opportunities, and “re-joining” clubs and organizations that will enrich our lives.

I am no exception to this rule. When my daughter was especially little, she and I registered in a moms & tots dance and movement class. We had a good time, and learned how to move as if we were feathers, and then as if we were heavy stones. We met other moms and tots and developed a wonderful friendship with Carol Gillstrom, our teacher.

As Carol’s business left the Y and became the very successful Huronia Dance Centre, I dropped out but dance class became one of my daughter’s weekly highlights.

So did swimming. Because we enjoy time at a summer cottage, swimming lessons are a must, and she’s been very successful at moving through the Red Cross badge and national life saving program.

And of course, music plays a huge role in children’s lives, and so piano lessons would give her the foundation she needed to be able to enjoy the universal connection between peoples and cultures all over the world. The piano grew to include guitar and today she’s an admirable musician.

And ski lessons would enable her to learn to trust her physical self as she developed rhythm and strength. Skiing would also let her learn how to anticipate, make quick decisions, compete with her own self, and enjoy the friendship of other kids.

Activities… lessons… clubs… initatives. They all contribute to a child’s development, and each gives its unique advantages to young folks.

So, it makes sense that as summer wanes and school days hover on the horizon, we get busy thinking about the family schedules, who’s doing what, which lessons fit into our personal calendars and how it can all be juggled with one parent and one car.

All of this makes me think back to the year my wise little daughter was entering Grade Two. We sat together at the kitchen table, Y activity book, piano teacher’s schedule, my daytimer and the family calendar spread out before us.

“Now!” I said. “You’ll want to take swimming, of course, and that’s available Monday after school, from 4 to 5. And Tuesday right after supper you can go to piano and I can walk you to Mrs. Sullivan’s because it’s right around the corner. Wednesdays are dance days and that’s an hour, from 6 to 7. I think on Thursdays you’ll have to make a choice between Explorers and Gymnastics and we should keep Friday night free because as soon as the snow comes your ski lessons will begin at 9 am and go to noon.”

Her bright little face was like a blank portrait paper. She said nothing.

I stayed perky, filling in my daytimer juggling her schedule around my own hectic pace, fitting in this pick up and that drop-off, noting who could share driving to which activity.

Silence sat beside me at the kitchen table.

“Mommy?” The voice was soft.

I looked over. She sat with her hands in her lap.

“Hmmm?” I said.

“Are these my slow years?” she asked.

Slow years? Easy going times when you lie on the front lawn and watch the clouds float across the sky. When you roll over and watch a lady bug move along a stalk of grass. When you gather grass in a jar and watch a bug playing before you. When you come home from school and disappear into your toy area, re-arranging, imagining, dressing up, incorporating your school world into your home world. When you take a walk home from school with your parent holding your hand, singing a new song or talking about why Mrs. Scanlan is the best teacher you ever had. When you share your day over an after school tea party instead of in a car racing to the next activity. When you just are.

What a lesson in living!

What a lesson in taking time!

It’s a good thing I was writing my daytimer in pencil… it was alot easier to erase.

Thanks, Emily!