A Guest Post by It’s a Drama!
The series all about the parenting fails and rookie mistakes that prove there really is no manual for this job.
I have a treat for you this week people. This weeks Rookie Mistake is from Liz who blogs at It’s a Drama. Liz is a relatively new blogger, but I fell in love with her writing style immediately. Liz just has a way of telling a story that draws you in and gets you hooked. Liz has written about the drama of after school clubs and our kids busy social lives. Enjoy.
If you have a Rookie Mistake and would like to be part of the series you can find out more here.
“The Cost of Keeping Our Kids Off the Streets”.
As another month is torn from the calendar, so comes further requests from my teenager to drop an activity. 16 years I’ve been putting myself through this lovely torturous experience, and it’s finally drawing to an end.
After school clubs. Did we have after school clubs and activities when we were kids? No. And it never did us any harm, did it? If only I’d parented as my Mother had, back in the 1970s.
£2200. That’s how much the whole after school club experience has cost me for one child from birth to the age of 8.
£2200. That’s how much I’d be sitting on had I parented in the 1970’s style. I can see it all now. Heres what I could have done…
Waited for my kids to get in from school, given them a jam sandwich and then
kicked ushered them out into the street to play. Insisted that they did not come back until dark. And no sooner. Explained how I’d be making tea and that it takes a lot of preparation to peel potatoes and crack eggs. They must not dare think about coming back in and mythering me.
‘Take your bikes if you want to,’ Id say. What do you mean you haven’t got one? Ask for a backy on your friends one then.
‘Take your disco boot roller skates if you want to’. Id suggest. What do you mean they don’t fit you anymore and the road is covered in loose gravel chip? Loosen the lasses and stand on the heels and hold onto to the neighbour’s wall, so you don’t fall over and rip your knees to pieces then. Whatever you do, don’t you dare come through that gate until tea time.
As a parent to young kids, I wonder where I went wrong with the whole after school activity thing. I mean, they still had streets in 2004, didn’t they? Houses with neighbours and pavements that you could zoom along in your disco boots?
Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that all after school curriculum clubs are the work of the devil, but had I known how expensive the teenage years were going to be, I would have been a little more selective in what I threw my hard earned dosh into.
And so why did I send them? Peer pressure.
I struggled to just about hold it together when my son started school. I’d be proud of myself if I remembered where I’d put the healthy tuck shop rota. I was often in the habit of forgetting that it was mufti day and so sending her son to school in his uniform but also tending to forget that it was school photo day and letting her son wear his Captain Jack Sparrow tea shirt under his Artex vest. Giving it a nice dirty red glow.
I’d turn up at the dreaded school gates, and they’d be there. The perfect Mothers, with a little slip of rectangular paper in their hands. I’d recognise it as being that same piece of paper that I’d wiped the kittens bum with when she had that poo stuck to her tail the week before. I’d belt over to the office, blathering on about how I was desperate for my son to be signed up for this next best thing. The receptionist lady never guessing that the evidence of this was sitting in the bin clumped with a load of fur and kitty crap.
It started earlier than school though. The first club I succumbed to was when my boy was just 7 months old.
Making Music or something along those lines. It might have been making a din, but I’m not sure. 2 quid a session that bloody thing cost me. For what? To sit with a dribbling blob on my lap feeling inadequate because all of the other blobs were trying to crawl off their perfect parent’s knees. Mine, not even attempting it. Me, sitting there grimacing listening to a load of tambourines being banged out of time by a load of mothers who quite frankly were old enough to know better.
Total Cost: Cheap. But not cheap enough to have your ears left ringing for two hours.
Rugby Club. The second one up was when he was 4 years old and had just started school. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking, Every member of our family hates rugby- which isn’t convenient considering we emigrated to New Zealand. There wasn’t even the choice of football. It was rugby or nothing. I’ll take the rugby then, please. I used to go and watch every Wednesday after school. He’d be there, running in the opposite direction of the ball. Punching his fist, pretending he had his Ben 10 watch on so he could transport himself off that bloody pitch no doubt. But still, I froze my ar*se off and paid my money.
Total cost: Whatever it cost it was too bloody much.
Piano lessons came at age 5. Now I have to be honest here, although it was absolute torture getting him to do those scales every day, he still plays the piano and loves it, so, credit to the afterschool club warriors, yes, I understand it’s all about finding their thang. This one was his.
Total cost: You don’t want to know, it’s in the thousands.
Drama club. Aged 7. Acting is now a huge part of my son’s life. I put his talent down to all those Saturdays that I sat there watching a load of obnoxious show offs doing their Mr Bean impersonations. Me, feeling inadequate because I hadn’t gone and bought my son those special jazz shoes that are imperative for a 7-year-old actor to succeed.
Total cost: A lot and still ongoing. I don’t mind this one though, those obnoxious show offs are now my sons best friends.
Trampoline club. Aged 8. This is a beauty. Youll love this one. Trampoline club, as in, a big trampoline in a sports hall with some comfy mats around the outside in case the little bouncing buggers bionged off. And me, handing over tons of money each week to stand and watch a load of snotty brats screaming “look at me! Look at me!”. There are only so many times you can say, “Whoa that was a high one!” All the while thinking ‘there goes another fiver’.
Total cost: I had to bounce all the way to the bank for this one. What a bloody rip off. Literally stood there watching my money bounce up to the sky.
Chess club: This was my favourite and for one reason. It was quiet. Which is probably the reason my son hated it so much. “I don’t want to go” he’d wail, “It’s Borr-inn GGG”. But I happily got my dosh out every Monday. I’d take a book and sit and read at the side of the room. The trouble was, not being a chess player myself, I always managed to miss the crucial move. The one that all the other mothers were watching like hawks and would let out an ‘ooh’ and raise their eyebrows as if to say, “that was a game changer” or something chessy like that. Up until last year, I thought the little pieces in chess were called prawns. Need I say more?
Total cost: Too much for a quiet read. Could have gone to the library for free and I wouldn’t have made myself look like an ignorant kn*b.
And then we emigrated, and they all stopped. Until we’d been in New Zealand for a couple of months and I saw a little notice in the shop window. Karate. 7-9pm Tuesday and Thursday. Why not? I thought. I’ve got nothing else to spend my money on.
* * * * * * * * *
I often look back and contemplate how much money and time I gave to after school clubs and activities over those 8 years, and actually, I haven’t learned my lesson as I’m still here doing it.
But. Had I parented the way my mother had taught me, and just told them to go out and play with a curly wurly, I would now be sitting on a tidy little sum.
All that dosh could have paid for gold plated disco skates.
And a nice bottle of red.
To go with my egg and chips.
I’m Liz, an English girl now living in New Zealand. The mum to two teenagers and the wife to the most patient man on this planet.
I am the founder of http://www.itsadrama.com a funny, raw and honest blog about the ups and the downs of parenting, home-schooling and travelling the world with teenagers. As I approached middle ageism I decided, that after trying without success to keep up with the Jones’s, I would abandon the idea. I poured myself a glass of wine and started this blog.
This is about a life without filters. I am here to assure you that, should you be struggling too, no matter! You are in good company. And we’ve always got the wine. Let’s laugh about it together. It’s lovely to meet you! Jump aboard and enjoy the ride.
Please take a moment to follow Liz on Facebook and twitter.