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It’s 8:59 pm on Monday, August 12.

And I’m ready.

The City of Ottawa Recreation Site is about to go live for Fall Registration.

I have our family PIN.  I have our client number.  I have my credit card.

I have combed the Recreation Guide to find the best activities for my three-year-old at the best locations at the best times for our schedule.

I tried to find concurrently running programs for my one-year-old.

They don’t exist.

I’ve decided this is an evil plot to ensure parents have to just sit and wait outside their preschooler’s class – there in the event they are spontaneously required for a bathroom break.

I mourn the lack of foresight of city schedulers.  The injustice that my one-year-old will not be able to take baby gymnastics or Kindermusik while my eldest is learning the finer points of hip hop dance.

The blame for any inability of my youngest to meet ANY milestones will forever more be placed firmly at the feet of the City of Ottawa.

After accepting we’d only book our eldest into activities this Fall; I triaged options with my husband.  After much back and forth (Sportball? Muck and Mess?) we decided on swimming lessons and dance.

The clock hits 9:00 pm.

I hit REGISTER!

Unfortunately, so do about 3000 other parents across Ottawa.

As such it takes over two hours to get into the system and successfully get my child signed up for organized learning and fun.

This (refresh) gave me lots of time (Refresh) to reflect on (REFRESH)whether structured programs (REFRESH REFRESH) are really (REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH!!!) worth it under a certain age.

Don’t get me wrong.  Once we’re IN, we enjoy them.

However, by way of example, my daughters also had a blast yesterday running around an empty tennis court for half an hour challenging me to catch them.  They were entertained, exercising, strategizing, socializing … That’s a regular smorgasbord of preschool developmental hoopla happening.

Granted, tag in the tennis court doesn’t get me a tax credit or my kid to Wimbledon. In a world where we seem fixated on measurables and deliverables, it doesn’t “officially count” for anything, really.

As a parent, I worry if I don’t sign my children up they’ll miss out.  Or worse, as a type-A, overachiever from WAY BACK, I worry they might fall behind.  For instance, music helps with math skills and gymnastics with gross-motor development. I don’t want to be the mother of the nine-year-old klutz who can’t add, thinking it all could have been prevented if only we’d gotten into Salsa Babies (REFRESH! REFRESH! REFRESH!!!!).

Deep breath.  On the flip side, I’ll admit it probably isn’t necessary – at least for the next couple years – to pore over the course offerings in the Recreation Guide like it’s the kiddie equivalent to the undergrad course calendar.

And tennis court tag?  It was refreshing, in a no family PIN required kind of way.

I’m going to remember to do more of it.

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