I’ve given myself my own prompt for this free day over at NaBloPoMo. It poped into my head the other day, while noticing all the stuff friends on my Facebooks sign thier kids up for. Lots of activities. LOTS. And my kids… not so much. Every now and then I ask myself the following question, and every time the answer is the same…
Prompt: Do you feel guilty that your children don’t get to participate in as many after school / weekend extra curricular activities / sports as other children?
My answer varies for each kid.
Kid the 1st – the preshus:
Yes, I feel guilty that I don’t sign him up for swimming and baseball and soccer and badminton and karate and boy scouts and a number of other classes I’m sure he’d love to take each and every session like other parents do. Sure, I might get him to one or two swimming sets throughout the year, but to be honest, one or two swimming sets is all I’m mentally prepared to commit to. Look, I’m a busy mom. And my kids are busy people. And yes, learning to swim is important, as are participating in other activities. But there are only so many hours in the day, in the week, in the month, in the year that I have as free time, that my kids have as free time, and I’m very aware of the fact that free time is important to kids and parents and families in general. I kill myself just to get through a regular day. And I know driving to a 30 minute swim class once a week for 7 or 8 weeks isn’t that big of a deal, but it becomes a big deal when in week 3 said child no longer wants to wake up for class and complains they’re too tired, and the designated watcher of the second child complains about having to change plans in order to watch said child so that I don’t have to keep kid two from having a meltdown because he can’t go play in the water while his brother has his lesson. I can handle these kinds of shenanagins for one round of swimming classes a year. Maybe two. But that’s about it. It’s not worth the aggravation. My limited time is precious. And stressing out over getting to a swim class on time and managing the schedules of 4 different people isn’t a fun time for me. So do I feel guilty that my kid can’t get through 4 swimming levels a year like some other kids do? You betcha. Do I feel good about the fact that he gets much needed downtime from school on most weekends where he can sleep in and chill out or whatever else he wants to do. Absolutely.
Also note, I’ve happily agreed to suggestions that family members have given when they think it would be a great idea to sign the preshus up for karate or boy scouts or soccer or whatever. But don’t make the suggestion then look disappointed that I’m not willing to take it on. I know my limits. But please, feel free to step in and take over.
Kid the 2nd – the peanut:
Being a child with ASD has it’s limits when it comes to extra activities that are well tolerated. He’s not interested (able?) in focusing on learning lessons in a class of any kind. Just getting him to focus in school was a challenge until we got him into Diagnostic Kindergarten. We tried swimming lessons one spring where I went to the classes with him and was in the pool with him and everything. But on the days when the water was warm enough for him to even unclench his poor oversensitive body, he was more interested in playing with the float aids than learning to put his face in the water or floating on his back. Not worth the meltdowns. At. All. I know his limits. So until he matures to a point where listening to and following instructions from strangers is a thing he can do, I don’t feel guilty about it at all. There are a bunch of other free (or nearly free) things I can do with him that play well to his extra sensory sensitivities. Snoozlen Rooms, perfect. Indoor playgrounds, too noisy and crowded. The park, perfect. The trampoline park where jumping with wild abandon on multiple trampolines is frowned upon, not so much. A long walk around the block. His favourite thing to do. I’m totally down with that, and we can do it every day. Over the years I’ve had to let go of the different things non-ASD kids his age can do, and to fill his time with activities that don’t add extra levels of stress and discomfort to his day. No guilt here.