Thursday, January 11, 2007

The After School Cha Cha

Where is the balance? School, fun, rest, family, homework, friends, exercise.

The stress for "life balance" starts earlier than I thought.

All my kids want to do afterschool activities, and the kid currently with the least stuff after school is Katherine. They don't get home until 4 and we never know how much homework she's going to get each evening. With dinner around 6 or 6:30 (usually done by 7), she's in bed by 8 and reads until 9, then she's up at 6:30 to start all over. She needs sleep, a lot of sleep. She's growing again, starting the long stretch from 11 year old into 12 years old, expecting puberty to kick in in the coming year, growing taller. This week back at school has taken its toll on her, the bags under her eyes came back fast and she's getting tummy aches.
But I -want- her to do activities. She wants to do activities. And we both acknowledge the fact that it realistically can't be done without really squishing our schedule and taking a greater physical toll. I'm one who thinks kids should have time every day to do nothing structured. For us, it's the time between homework and dinner. She invites a friend over or plays computer games or watches TV. There's an hour each day to pick whatever, then it's time to set the table and get the evening stuff done.
Next year, for Middle School the school day extends a 1/2 hour longer and the homework load will increase. How do kids find time to do fun stuff after school without killing themselves in the process? She'd like to take tennis (2x/week), continue piano lessons (1x/week), begin horseriding (2-3x/week), and join the swim team (3x/week). If it's this hard now to do one afterschool activity (ballet, once a week) and piano on Saturday morning, how will we ever manage next year??
I don't have the answers, I'm rather hoping I'll receive divine inspiration on the whole balancing thing, sometime before the kids move out at least.
Speaking of growing up, what is with the Indian freedom of sharing or inquiring into personal issues? Tamil Nadu is a conservative state yet it's interesting to see what that pertains to. Clothing, emotional expression, women on the right/men on the left. But just yesterday I mentioned to Mercy, the cook, that Katherine wasn't feeling well at school and she asked if Katherine had started her period. After a short yet stunned silence, I replied to the negative. This was after the driver came to work late because he took his wife to the hospital. What I understood over the phone as a stomach ache was explained to Ian as "missing her menses for 2 1/2 months." Maybe the propriety is solely between the sexes but within discussion is open and free?
Anyhow. I know it's coming. But I don't need to discuss it with, uh, the "staff."

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