When Is Extracurricular Excessive?

We live in a crazy, busy, hectic world, don’t we?  It seems there is always somewhere to be and never enough time in the day to accomplish it all.  If you have a kid or kids, time is a luxury which is not only sparse but is rarely your own.

I have a stepson who is 17 years old.  He began playing lacrosse through his high school at the end of last month.  I played organized sports while growing up and I think every kid should do it.  Even if sports aren’t necessarily the kid’s favorite thing, I believe the lessons taught about good sportsmanship and commaraderie and working together as a team are so valuable to warrant playing the sport.  (I also believe that every person should be forced to work in customer service at some point in their life to cut down on the prevalent assholery in the world today).  When I played sports, it did take cooperation on parents’ parts in order to make the world go ’round – – take kids to practice, maybe even coach, help out with water or Gatorade for the games and, of course, attend games.  When you got to high school level sports, it was more attending games and possibly forking over some money for a jacket or some equipment.

Not so much today. We had to pay in order for Son to play.  That was the fee, supposedly, for field rentals and coaches’ salaries.  Because even though it’s the high school’s lacrosse team, it’s not exactly endorsed by the school.  Huh?  Yeah, I don’t get it either.  They practice on the school’s field, play home games there and sport the school’s name and mascot on their uniforms.  I’m not seeing the lack of connection.  Anyhow . . . we also have to provide all equipment, other than the basic uniform of shirt and shorts.  Do you know much about lacrosse?  I didn’t know much about it a month ago but I can tell you this now:  it’s expensive.  Super freaking expensive.  A stick will cost you close to $200, if new.  And players are supposed to have two of them.  A helmet runs about $150 and up.  That’s not including the pads – – good shoulder pads are $100.  Is your wallet screaming?  Because mine is.

This is all before the first game.  To which, because this isn’t a school endorsed or affiliated or whatthefuckever sport, no transportation is provided.  That’s right – – no fun school bus rides to and from games for these kids.  And no helping Mom and Dad out when the games start at 5 p.m.  Or 4:30.  Or 4.  Or 3.  Yes, 3.  When the majority of us are still working.  Bad enough this is the case when the game is a home game, or even a local (i.e., within 15 minutes of the school) game.  But Son’s second game was north of us.  In a different county.  An hour and a half away.  On a Monday.  Starting at 4:45 p.m.   And the team was to report at 3:15, making it necessary to leave the area by 1:45 – – when many people are just getting settled back in from their lunch hour.   And the schedule for the season tells us we will have 2-3 games per week – – joy!

Practices are daily, except Sundays.  During the week they can be scheduled to end at 5:30 (but don’t expect for your kid to actually show until 5:50 if you pick up as practices never end on time unless you are running late) or even 6:30 which makes dinner preparation (already a challenge when you have a teenager) a pain in the ass.

Let’s not forget the team dinners that are held weekly.  We can fortunately avoid having to host 50 teenage boys and 5 coaches due to being in an apartment but we are expected to provide crockpot meals, enough to serve 20, for them to consume which must be dropped off at the host’s home by 5 p.m. on the afternoon of the dinner.  A bit tricky when you work until 5 p.m.

And the parents are also requested to bring items to stock the concession stand with, to volunteer in the concession stand, to volunteer to record the games for the coaches to view later, to volunteer to announce the games, to keep score and to clean and maintain the field after each game.  No joke.  I couldn’t make this up.

When I got an email initially about Son playing this sport and it was mentioned that it would require daily dedication and lots of time, I had no idea they were referring to the parents and families of the kids just as much as the kids themselves.  Naturally, this is all in addition to keeping up with schoolwork (which seems to be less and less important to public schools nowadays but that would be another post for another day).

If you’re a parent, what do you think?  Are kids expected to do too much insofar as extracurricular activities go?  I’m not knocking belonging to clubs and having outside activities but I think when a 2 year old has a busier social calendar than I do, our priorities are out of whack.  (And I say this with truth – – my mother runs a daycare center and she does have toddlers with music lessons, dance lessons, etc. on a daily basis).  What are we teaching our kids?  Or not teaching them?  By signing them up for sports and other activities, does it require us to give up all of our free time?  And should it?

Let me know what you think.

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