Saturday, February 28, 2009

How to burn your kids out before high school:

Lest my loyal readers think that I just have it out for overcompetitive, time consuming organized sports, let me take this opportunity to show my frustration with ALL overscheduling of kids. Check out this girl, who wrote to Dear Abby for help:

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 13-year-old girl -- a straight-A student in the eighth grade. Most of my teachers like me, but I am overscheduled.

I do swimming five times a week. To prepare for the Advanced Placement test, I have German lessons every Wednesday. I have orchestra rehearsal every Saturday morning and sailing class every Sunday. I also take private violin lessons that I must practice for.

I love swimming, but if I go less often, I will be kicked off the team. The German class is something my mom insists on, and I don't mind it too much. I like being musical, and my violin teacher insists I play in the orchestra. Sailing is my passion. I am nationally ranked, and it keeps me going.

I manage this schedule, but some time for myself would be much appreciated. Any ideas, Abby? -- STRESSED IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Oh MAN. The thing in this list that really makes me mad is the German lessons. Now, far be it from me to discourage American students from picking up foreign language...this is drastically underemphasized in our education system, I think, and it's great that this girl has a head start. But....preparing for the AP test? At 13? Whaaaaa?

That, to me, is the tip-off that she's got a crazy mom who is (unnecessarily, it seems, given the girl's skills, time management and otherwise) freaked out about her daughter failing at life. Give her a chance before you rehabilitate her into the "perfect" daughter you never knew you didn't have or want. (That makes sense....right?)

She "loves" swimming and sailing, and seems to enjoy the music, too. Since she's clearly doing well in school...why not let the German go already? Holy cow.

Of course, unfortunately, that's the one thing the mother insists on, so Abby can only respond to the girl, who wrote to her, by suggesting that she seek a school counselor's guidance about prioritizing. Sometimes I wish we could reach through the newspaper/computer screen and give these parents a little slap on the back of the head, Gibbs-style (I'm referring to Jethro Gibbs of NCIS, a badass navy crime investigator known for, well, slapping his underlings in the back of the head when they do stupid stuff).

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