We Totally Suck At Organized Activities

I signed my son up for swimming lessons so that he could start earning those leveled badges that say you can swim (even though, like most kids, Oskar can already hold his own in the deep end of a pool).

As all the other kids were off showing the instructor that they could swim 10 meters in a straight line, Oskar’s eyes were closed, his head bobbed up and down and he performed a 2-minute long drum solo on his flutter board. This, unfortunately, was not one of the skills the Level 2 instructor was testing. 

Isla was equally successful at swimming. This video clip shows her swimming across the deep end of a pool for the first time at the age of 2, but she failed to earn her Crocodile badge when she took the class.

 Ballet lesson didn’t go a whole lot better.

Instructor: We’re going to practice galloping. 

Isla Blue: What’s galloping? 

Instructor: You put your right foot in front of your lef—

Isla Blue: We don’t know which is our right foot and which is our left? We’re only 3, you know! Have you ever taught 3 year olds?

I skulked out of the viewing gallery, shaking my head. Whose kid is that? (I noticed the following week that all the little girls emerged from class with stickers on their right ballet slippers.)

I tried registering Oskar in hockey and soccer with similar results. I was busy socializing with the other parents (which is the best part about soccer, in my opinion), when I noticed Oskar wasn’t on the field. I started to panic. Why wasn’t he amongst that blob of kids running after the ball? I happened to look up and spotted him in a tree.

I asked him why he didn’t play and he said there was only one ball and he didn’t see why everyone was trying to go after the same ball. Why not just have more balls? It’d be more fun.

I always thought it’s kind of normal to sign your kids up for all sorts of activities because it will make them better people, teach them about teamwork and how to play by rules. (And what good Canadian kid doesn’t play hockey? Mine, apparently.)

 This is a list of all of the activities I did as a kid (and I don’t even think it’s exhaustive): 

  • Piano

  • Bandura (a Ukrainian instrument no one has ever heard of)

  • Figure skating

  • Ukrainian dancing

  • Ballet

  • Jazz

  • Actor’s Showcase

  • Cymk youth group

  • Gymnastics

  • Rhythmic gymnastics

  • Saturday morning Ukrainian school

  • Swimming

  • Soccer

I should note that I showed no promising talent whatsoever in any of these activities, but I think I enjoyed participating from what I remember. (With the exception of Saturday morning Ukrainian school. I will never get those hours back. )

They contributed in making me a well-rounded person. At the very least failing my skating test over and over and over again prepared me for the fact that life holds rejection. Those activities gave me confidence. (But wait, did they? I’m not even confident this blog is any good.) 

My kids just aren’t interested in organized, formal activities. They are perfectly happy to go to the park and kick a ball or toss a Frisbee around with us or their friends, jump on the trampoline, make up an hour long interpretive dance, spend entire week ends playing “Zombies versus Papa and Mama” on the bed. (What will that teach them? If you hit your head on the dresser, it doesn’t always mean a trip to the hospital?)

My son dropping mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke. Blowing things up. Another favourite activity.

The second there is a skills drill involving a puck or a tutorial on first and third position in ballet, they lose interest.

I worry a little about all the skills and life lessons they might not be getting. They are only 5 and 7 years old and maybe they will grow into these activities. But maybe they won’t.

Alas, they are happy. That’s ultimately what we long for as parents, right? Happy children. And that's what I'll hang on to for now.

And I must confess, that instead of blasting through supper and racing off to the soccer pitch for a game, I do love that we have a leisurely supper, bounce around on the trampoline for a while and then fall into a heap, watching the birds soaring in the sky above.

Sometimes we fill the trampoline with water balloons to liven things up a little!