Looking back I can recall my parents doing their best to provide my sister and me with chances for extracurricular activities. As a child, summer camps, exciting programs, and sports were all I heard my friends talk about. However, the whole “soccer mom” concept was lost to me. My mom wasn’t a “soccer mom.” My mom was a working mom. She worked hard to put food on the table and to pay the bills, and unfortunately that’s as far as it got. Any “extras” were luxuries we couldn’t afford. And as a child, I think I had a vague understanding that those “extras” just weren’t in the cards. My mother was the only one with an income, and even if she were to have made enough money to pay for extracurricular activities, my father would not have been physically able to take my sister or me to said programs/activities.
Don’t get me wrong. If there was some sort of educational camp or orchestra program available, my mother would count her pennies to get my sister and me in. I guess she just chose wisely in which extracurricular programs to sign us up for, and I am completely grateful for that. And once I reached an age where sports and extracurricular clubs were available at school it became easier for me to delve into that world.
My husband had even less. He grew up in a very impoverished home; extracurricular programs weren’t even on the radar. Sometimes he reminisces of the times when he “practiced” karate in the back yard after watching the Karate Kid, or “taught” himself to tie all kinds of knots because you never know when that skill might be needed. As adults, we both understand that it isn’t that his parents didn’t want to provide him with karate lessons or sign him up with the Boy Scouts – they just knew they couldn’t afford it, so what was the point of bringing the subject up. And even as a child, my husband knew it wasn’t something you would ask your parents for as you saw them struggling to put food on the table.
As the years passed, I guess neither my husband and I put any more thought into the world of “extras” that we missed out on. Life ensued. We grew up as happy and functioning adults in a globally competitive society. Who needed little-league? Who needed dance lessons? Not us. We came out just fine.
And then our son was born, and I guess that life of “extras” we weren’t privy to came out with full force. As he grew, our son showed interest in tee ball, karate, drums, and pretty much anything that made noise or involved dirt. And as he showed interest, we’d try our best to get him involved. Even the mother who couldn’t always afford for her daughters to participate in certain programs or events, now finds herself supplying the funds for many of her grandson’s membership fees. I think it’s her guilt for not being able to provide my sister and me with that kind of life (though she has nothing to feel guilty about) that spurs her to get my child involved. Even my husband and I find ourselves pushing Caleb to try everything. He’s involved in baseball, soccer, and basketball. He’s dabbled in Tae Kwan Do and Karate. He’s taken drum lessons and wants to try piano. He’s participated in fun summer programs for the last two years. He’s on his third year of swimming class. This child is only 6, but he’s done more in the last few years than my husband and I did combined. I list all this not to boast about what we give our child, but to remind myself of the blessings in our life. To remind myself that God has given us the ability to bless our children.
Is it a struggle keeping up with his social calendar? YES. Yes, it is. And on Tuesday, as I sat listening to the Cub Scout recruiter, I began to wonder. Are we vicariously living through him? I had no idea my husband knew so much about Cub Scouts until he convinced me to go and listen to the recruiter. Is it because he secretly wanted to be one as a child? Did he dream of camping and earning badges for manly skills? And that got me thinking. Was it my desire to go to fun summer camps and reading programs that pushed me to sign my son up for all the ones I could afford? Are we vicariously living through him? I guess my husband and I, and even my mother to a certain extent, didn’t know just how badly we wanted to be a part of the extracurricular world we missed out on.
Is it too much? Some say yes, others say no. Everyone will have their own opinion, and that’s fine. We will continue to allow Caleb to explore different talents and hobbies as long as we can. We will never push him to do something he doesn’t want to do, but we will always encourage him to try. And I guess, my husband and I will continue to live vicariously through our child, through both our children. We might as well enjoy the ride.