I hate getting the park district program guide

Nothing causes parental panic in me like the arrival of the local park district program guide. I get nervous, and while I know I’m not going to feel good afterward, I open it anyway.

Then the self-doubt creeps in completely takes over. What if my tween is great at fencing and we’ll never know because I have never signed her up for it? (As if my girl, the fashionista, would be okay wearing that full body suit.)

Am I missing a fabulous bonding activity if we don’t sign up for parent/child archery? (Never mind the fact that it is offered around her bedtime and will almost certainly lead to frustration for both of us.)

And oh my God, the park district now has the Steperette Cadets who perform on the Midwest Color Guard Circuit starting at age 8.  My tween is 10 and hasn’t twirled anything other than a plastic baton a few years ago. Has the twirling window closed forever?

I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the flag corps when I was in high school. I started twirling at the end of 8th grade as part of the audition for the high school group. No other girl in my class had ever twirled a flag. I hit a senior in the head with my flag pole on my first attempt. Ah, how I failed to appreciate the even playing field and the beauty of growing up in such a small town that it never occurred to anyone to twirl a flag for something other than half time of a football game. But if she does decide to twirl in high school, or do any other activity for that matter, I fear she’ll be 10 years behind. What if I have prevented her from finding her niche?

The same fear exists for pretty much every activity window, with the exception of the soccer door – it is clear that one is slammed shut. Is my best hope that some kids will burn out before high school and my kid can slide in as a late bloomer?

This is not a tween-specific issue.  I’ve been stressed about the parenting conundrum of just which activities are a good fit for my girl for years and years. It’s because I want to give her every advantage and expose her to all the wonderful opportunities available to her. I want her to discover her passions and cultivate her talents. I want her to have every opportunity to be the best version of herself she can be.

But here’s the problem. I also want my tween to get a full night’s sleep every night, to have time for a calm family dinner, to put school work first, to not be stressed out. Signing her up for every activity that could be fun or interesting will only ensure that none of that happens.  She is currently involved in several activities that she has made it clear she enjoys and that we think make her a well-rounded individual. I was relieved that there are no tennis offerings in the winter, and I decided not to seek opportunities elsewhere. Although some very active families think my tween is downright neglected by having a few afternoons with no activities, in my estimation my tween is already sufficiently busy. Sometimes you just have to say no to possibilities.

So why can’t I just let it go? Why can’t I just put the program guide aside with the knowledge that she has a full schedule with activities she enjoys and that help her be well-rounded? I’m working on feeling good about our choices and priorities and telling myself that I can’t feel guilty that my tween has only 24 hours a day.

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