Her red eyes watered and drooped, further accenting the dark rings underneath. She hung her head low and shuffled away, a wilting flower. I followed, intent on nurturing my child. My fists clinched and my face flushed as I turned back to glare at the oppressive, demanding woman.
Away from prying eyes and judging peers, my child collapsed into my arms, giving in to her exhaustion. Her anxieties spilled out. Too much homework. Too many activities. Too many demands upon her. Too little sleep. Too little time to play with her baby sister. I comforted her as best I could, dried her eyes, and wiped away a few of my own tears. I watched as she straightened her shoulders, took a few deep breaths, and walked back in, intent on following through with her commitment despite her desire for much-needed rest.
Even now, reflecting on this incident, I’m seething. I’m angry and frustrated. I’m irate, maddened, irritated, and provoked. I’m just plain old pissed off. I’m a mama bear with claws at the ready, hair on end, teeth bared.
Someone messed with my kid. Someone put their own needs ahead of my child’s needs. Someone, an adult in a position to provide guidance and inspiration, instead provided anxiety, stress, and exhaustion.
How should I cope with my anger? How can I accept my inability to solve this problem for my child? Well, as a therapist might advise, I’ll write a letter.
So, here you go:
I know this class/sport/play/concert/etc is important to you. I know that you have put in many hours on this project and have worked hard with all the kids. I appreciate that immensely.
However, I do not appreciate you believing YOUR project should be top priority for every participant, surpassing homework, family, rest, and mental health in importance. I do not appreciate you questioning my judgment when I observe that my exhausted loved one needs to get to bed early. I especially do not appreciate you questioning my judgment in front of my child. But that is not all.
I do not appreciate it when your class/practice/rehearsal/etc is extended to longer and longer periods of time, continually pushing the schedule beyond what we had been asked to commit to. I do not appreciate being told to drop off my child early, only to later spend 30 minutes waiting around while you keep everyone late. We are always prompt. You are always late. But that is not all.
I do not appreciate you threatening my child that she will not be able to participate in the game/show/play/concert/etc if she chooses to leave early to finish homework and get to bed at a reasonable hour. This was not on the list of required practices. She has attended every event and every practice. She has been a phenomenal participant. We read and follow your schedule and have marked the dates of required participation. This is not one of them. I really, truly, honestly do not appreciate you threatening to take this away from child. Still, that is not all.
I am emphatically, decidedly, unequivocally unappreciative of the anguish you have caused my child! I am on my knees, begging you to lighten up on the children. If the play is mediocre and lines are forgotten, it will still be marvelous in my eyes. If our team suffers a blow out, then it is a learning opportunity on how to face defeat with grace and dignity. If the concert is just mediocre and some choreography is stumbled through, it will still get a standing ovation from a room full of proud parents. But, if the event is a grand success at the expense of my child’s well-being, then I will truly lose all appreciation of you.
PS – You can take your daily begging-for-parent-volunteers emails and shove them up you A@#!
What Do You Think?
Twice in the past month, we have suffered through unrealistic (in my opinion) expectations from extracurricular activities. I now find myself in a conundrum: My child’s desire to continue her many, many activities versus my desire to boycott all of them and give her time to JUST BE A KID. What is your opinion on the demands and high expectations by sports, dance classes, clubs, etc? Are they good opportunities for our children to learn discipline and hard work, thus preparing them for life in “the real world”? Or, are they causing unnecessary stress and strain? How do you find balance and teach your children to find balance?
Image credits: Jonathan Baker Photography on Flickr; Krysten_N on Flickr
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