Recently, I have been feeling a bit guilty about my youngest son, Joey. When my older two boys were his age, they were signed up for every activity under the sun. It was easy to do back then. I didn't have any children in all-day school, and I was happy to fill the gaps in our lives with gymnastics, music, t-ball, and whatever else came along courtesy of the Chicago Park District.
Yet my current schedule of multiple schools and activities has limited Joey's involvement in extracurriculars. While he did take swim lessons this past fall, I haven't felt particularly motivated to expand on our heavily overbooked lives.
A few weeks ago, my husband took note of my perceived disparity in parental devotion. I tried to explain that it wasn't because I was any less vested in Joey, but rather I was just so very tired.
He handed me a stack of activity registration forms and encouraged me to pick just one from the pile for our son.
I begrudgingly reviewed my options. That's when I discovered that 4-year-old chess classes were being offered just up the street. We could walk! And to top things off, there was not a single mention whatsoever of being required to handle "snack mom" duties or volunteer as "tournament judge."
As I quickly filled out the form, I felt as though I had beaten the system. My husband was justifiably wary.
"Chess?" He questioned, looking over my shoulder.
"Why, yes. Daniel and Jack were both in chess at this age. Consistency, right? That's what you want?"
I happily moved down the form and jotted down my husband's cell phone number under the "Emergency Contact" line. Joe persisted:
"But the older boys were more sedate at this age. Joey is just so energetic. Do you think he's going to be able to sit still and follow instructions? Shouldn't we sign him up for something a little more physical? "
"He'll be fine," I countered as Isealed my registration documents and thereby, my fate.
Chess, I told myself, was the game of kings. How could I deny my child this most noble of sports?
Fast-forward to Week One of 4-year-old chess. Total and complete train wreck.
Joey could barely sit in his seat while arguing with the instructor over whether he could simply "scooch" around any piece that blocked his way. His earlier tutorials courtesy of his older brothers seemed mostly forgotten. Joey insisted his pawns were actually "brooks." And that they could fly. He made helicopter noises to prove his point.
He also refused to shake hands with his opponents, citing "germs."
The instructor patiently corrected Joey's behavior over and over again. I was mortified by his lack of interest in the activity and the resulting disruptions in class. He fidgeted, bounced, and even danced in an effort to liven up the hour, and eventually took to throwing pieces at other students for stress relief.
Needless to say, Joey will now be doing t-ball this spring.
And I will never admit to my husband that I was wrong.
Consistency, you see, is very important.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.