Hazel Davis and her fella have decided to home-educate their kids. This week, they’re working out when it’s time to let the little ones call the lifestyle shots.
I am in the grips of possibly the most middle-class dilemma ever.
My eldest Clem goes dancing on a Saturday morning. The class starts quite early and every week means getting up at the crack of dawn and rushing around (a) explaining to the smaller one why she can’t also come and (b) not having a lie-in. Ever.
She started going to a midday ‘acro-gym’ class in a different place. Because I NEVER THINK OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF ANYTHING, it’s in a hard-to-get-to place, which means if I am away my other half (who doesn’t drive) has to take a two- and a four-year-old on two buses, having also walked the dogs. My partner also works on Sundays so Saturday is our only day to do stuff together.
So I found a different ‘street-dance’ class (bored yet?) and realised it would mean not having to lose EVERY SINGLE SATURDAY to a sodding child’s activity as the whole thing would be over by 10am and it’s on a convenient bus route. So we switched.
Clem seemed to love the new dancing class and she even won the use of the class teddy for the week last week for being good. So far, so textbook.
Until she started missing the other class and talking about it and wondering why she couldn’t go any more, that is. “I miss acro,” she’d mournfully say in the back of the car. “Remember when I used to be happy at acro?”
“Clem is one of those children who needs to know what she’s doing when and would quite like there to be no sudden surprises. She has possibly been born into the wrong family.”
The thing is, at what point do your child’s extra-curricular activities mean your own plans fall by the wayside? Saturdays for us, as for a lot of people, are art gallery time, cafe-dwelling, paper-reading time, long walks in the woods time, meeting pals for lunch time. For a lot of people they are only time they get to spend free-range with their children, but because we home-educate, this isn’t quite the case.
Home-educating can mean a lack of structure and we have realised that, despite our best efforts and natural inclinations, Clem seems to need at least some routine. She goes to choir once a week and loves the discipline. And she has started to love the rigour of the acro class. She likes seeing the same children every week and she likes to forward-plan. She is one of those children who needs to know what she’s doing when and would quite like there to be no sudden surprises. She has possibly been born into the wrong family.
So perhaps these ‘extra-curricular’ (though there’s no such thing for us) activities are extra-important for her and we should try to work everything else around them. Because the home-ed groups we have been to are fairly ad-hoc and laissez-faire, dancing and choir offer her a structure. Choir and acro are her school.
For all our efforts to not want our children to be products of a machine, to be free-thinking, creative girls, it may be that they do at least need to be part of something, to turn up every week and work towards a common goal.
Moreover (and it was only a matter of time before this elephant came bubbling up to the surface, to stir up a metaphor), I am mindful of having unfulfilled passions as a child. This is the point where all my friends stop reading as they have heard this SO many times. I coulda been a contender. If I’d started learning music earlier, I would definitely have a Grammy by now. If my mother had only shoved me on the stage at three like any self-respecting mother, I could be on Broadway now (possibly trying to find a waitressing job in between endless auditions or even non-auditions but, still).
I don’t want Clem to get to 38 and still be saying, “Remember when I loved acro and could have been a professional acro-person [acro-people, I’m sorry I don’t know what to call you], but you stopped me going so you could stay in your pyjamas and read about Shoreditch cafes and lipstick?”
So we have decided to suck it up. Saturdays no longer exist and I am officially a helicopter mom. Bollocks.2536 Views
Hazel Davis is a freelance writer from West Yorkshire. She has two tiny children but the majority of her hours are taken up with thinking about Alec Baldwin singing sea shanties and the time someone once called her "moreishly interesting".