"Keeping up with the Jones" moments - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 01-07-2009, 10:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I'm having a major one of these right now. I just got an email from a "former" friend across the country who has children the same age as mine - 4 and 2. She is soooooo excited....her 4 year old is signed up for iceskating lessons. Previously, she, the 4 yo, was in some kinderkaratedancechopsticks kinda thingy. Oh, and she already knows how to swim. And they are majorly involved in church. She's in the choir. And of course preschool/Sunday school/awana stuff. I can barely get my 4 yo ds out of the house or away from our address. He took gymnastics (very loose structure type of class) for a little while but we had so much trouble keeping the schedule due to cold after cold after cold that we dropped it. He seemed to have liked it a bit and I asked him recently if he would like to try again - no. I've offered any and every thing I can think of that might peak some interest and all I get is "no". I've even offered learning to ride horses (I grew up doing it and it's great for those who would rather do individual/solo type activities - like him!) But no. And I know this shouldn't bother me. I know I should just let him be and make myself as available as possible for whenever he might find an interest in something. But still, it does bother me. I can't decide if I'm hurting my kids by not involving them or if people like the "friend" are way overdoing theirs. We don't attend church, we don't belong to any homeschooling group (and don't want to at this point), there are limited kid friendly things/places where we live and I don't have any real friends that have kids (most the people I know and converse with are older with either grown kids or never had any).......so I feel kinda lost most of the time as to what to do with them.
My dd is a totally different story - she's 2, almost 3, and ready to sign up for gymnastics, martial arts, riding lessons, the whole gamut! She actually cried herself silly tonight because we couldn't call the gym to sign her up tonight. She and I took the Mom and Tot class previously and she LOVED it! I think if she could hang on for another 3 months til she turns 3 years old, then I'd sign her up for the Tumble Tots class which she would do without me out there on the floor. Anyway, like I said, she's a whole other story.
I just worry (waaaaaayyyyy too much) I guess. Give me a good kick in the butt if I need it, ok?
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#2 of 23 Old 01-07-2009, 10:54 PM
 
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A mother's heart and playtime is BEST for her children. Period. So how can you beat that with classes and fancy schmancy stuff and involvement. Three is really, really young, imo, to sit through a class. Sure you can force them but why? If one is ready and you want and can afford that, that is awesome but we never did any of that stuff until 5 and much older.

Trust your instincts mama. : And let others judge and struggle with you whether they say it directly or not.

Some of my thoughts on groups, classes and church would offend others and I don't want to offend others in my freedom to mother.
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#3 of 23 Old 01-07-2009, 11:16 PM
 
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BIG KICK IN BUTT coming your way ..... Look out!!

So her 4yo is taking ice skating lessons? Well LaDeeDa. What a waste of time and money. Speaking from experience here. My kids didn't learn anything at skating lessons. They learned to skate during our fun free skating time.

And she can swim, at 4? Translation: she can stand in the water without drowning. So what?

Oh, and she's an expert at dancekaratechopping? Is she training for the Olympics? Big deal.

Your friend is missing out on snuggling and cuddling and living a peaceful life. Your poor friend. Her poor kids.
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#4 of 23 Old 01-07-2009, 11:26 PM
 
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BIG KICK IN BUTT coming your way ..... Look out!!

So her 4yo is taking ice skating lessons? Well LaDeeDa. What a waste of time and money. Speaking from experience here. My kids didn't learn anything at skating lessons. They learned to skate during our fun free skating time.

And she can swim, at 4? Translation: she can stand in the water without drowning. So what?

Oh, and she's an expert at dancekaratechopping? Is she training for the Olympics? Big deal.

Your friend is missing out on snuggling and cuddling and living a peaceful life. Your poor friend. Her poor kids.
Wow. Do we really have to denigrate other moms and kids to feel okay about our own lives and choices? I hope not.

It sounds like the OP's child has a very different temperament than her friend's child. Some kids want to be in every activity under the sun. Some kids would rather stay home and play. There's nothing wrong with either kind of kid. I would congratulate the OP for making the best choices for her son, but it also sounds like her friend is making great choices for her daughter. Those choices don't have to be the same.

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#5 of 23 Old 01-08-2009, 12:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Trust your instincts mama. : And let others judge and struggle with you whether they say it directly or not.
Thanks - I'm really trying!

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Originally Posted by momtokea View Post
And she can swim, at 4? Translation: she can stand in the water without drowning. So what?
Yeah, actually she can swim. I got to witness it this summer when they came into town.
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#6 of 23 Old 01-08-2009, 10:00 AM
 
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I can barely get my 4 yo ds out of the house or away from our address.
And he's happy with that, right? So, what's the problem? If you wanted your kids to all be doing the same thing, you could enroll them in school and then they'd all be doing the same activities at the same time.

One of the main ideas behind unschooling is that individual needs get met. Maybe, in the future, your ds will want to sign up for all sorts of things, or maybe his personality and needs will be such that he'll never be interested in formal classes. Do you want to give your child what HE needs, or what your friend's son needs?

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#7 of 23 Old 01-08-2009, 11:47 AM
 
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I think that in a few years you'll look at pictures of your little guy now and realize just how little he is. When my dad was a kid, all he did was hang out at home with my Grandma and his little brother until he was old enough for kindergarten. Trust me, he has no lasting damage, LOL!

Some little kids need a lot of activity, and some families like a lot of structure. Others don't. If your son decides he'd like to learn to skate later, he's got lots of time. In the meantime, I'm sure he's learning lots of other things.

I can relate to your anxiety, though. It's a lot easier to feel confident about kids learning at their own pace when their "pace" puts them clearly ahead of their peers.

ZM
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#8 of 23 Old 01-08-2009, 01:20 PM
 
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A mother's heart and playtime is BEST for her children. Period. So how can you beat that with classes and fancy schmancy stuff and involvement. Three is really, really young, imo, to sit through a class. Sure you can force them but why? If one is ready and you want and can afford that, that is awesome but we never did any of that stuff until 5 and much older.

Trust your instincts mama. : And let others judge and struggle with you whether they say it directly or not.

Some of my thoughts on groups, classes and church would offend others and I don't want to offend others in my freedom to mother.
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#9 of 23 Old 01-08-2009, 02:22 PM
 
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Oh, I'm so tired of the pressure to put kids in so many lessons and activities! First, I must fess up, I offered these things to my kid lots of times. But she says no.

When I meet moms at the park and such, I actually get asked "what is your daughter signed up for?" It freaks me out that lessons are some sort of expectation. Is keeping them busy so important? Do they need to be an expert at something at age 5? I don't know what it is. Personally, I think part of it is that parents don't know how to spend time with their kids anymore. Between school, activities and normal stuff like meals and car travel when do you have time to just BE with your kids.

When I asked my dd if she wanted swim lessons she told me she wanted to learn to swim, but why don't I just take her to the pool more often. Smart kid! Btw, that's what we did and she did teach herself how to swim.

In the end, when it comes down to your worrying I would say trust your instincts and know your kid.
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#10 of 23 Old 01-08-2009, 10:16 PM
 
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Ask yourself: What's important in life? What's life about? Is it really objectively ideal to do as much as you possibly can, go go go go go, whether or not you actually enjoy it or are interested in it or find it meaningful? Really? Why?

The notion that children should be busy all the time is nonsense. Some people like to be busy and constantly on the go and stimulated, and some people like things quieter, slower, simpler. The two types shouldn't even be compared.
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#11 of 23 Old 01-08-2009, 11:37 PM
 
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My son is an on the go all the time kid. He loves being in classes, having lots of playdates, play groups and going to lots of community events around town. My daughter is the opposite, she loves just being at home and going out every once in a while. What I love about unschooling is being able to give them both what they want and need.

Give your son time, he may be more eager to join things as he gets older and maybe not. If he's happy, let him be.

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#12 of 23 Old 01-08-2009, 11:42 PM
 
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I think that works for their family and that kid. But not for you...or your kid...and that's ok too

GOOD moms let their kids lick the beaters. GREAT moms turn off the mixer first!
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#13 of 23 Old 01-09-2009, 03:44 AM
 
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Being busy is the new status symbol.

Inevitably, this gets passed from parents who place value on being busy and accomplishing things 200% of the time to their children.

One of the reasons we chose to forgo school is to give our kids the gift of an unhurried childhood. Part of having a childhood is not entering the adult world of "competition" for as long as humanly possible; if ever (at least, I hope for my kids).

Don't get sucked in to living up to someone else's way of placing value on themselves. Some people only feel important if they are busy doing things that others see as valuable. It's like they are going 100 miles an hour and jumping up and down, shouting, "Look at me! Look at me! Look how great I am!" And this just naturally gets passed on to their kids. Or parents who never felt they had any bragging rights get their kids involved in everything so they can prove their own worth through their kids' accomplishments.

I say, do what you enjoy and do things that make a difference. Find your own way of being happy and fulfilled and support your child in how they want to feel fulfilled, but hopefully, you and your child can know it's not a requirement to be a Superperson in order to feel good.

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#14 of 23 Old 01-09-2009, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for the firm kicks in the butt! I DO know that different things work for different people and I shouldn't compare. I guess it's part of the human nature though to measure yourself against whatever you might percieve to be a standard.......like "being busy" is the new status symbol as one pp said, especially when you're doing something that is NOT the norm like unschooling. I myself have always been a content person to stay around the home and do things by myself, never been a crowd oriented person or someone who liked competition. I guess DS is more like me than I realized. I think I still need some deschooling for myself, however. It's definitely a process and doesn't happen overnight even though that would be SO convenient! LOL
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#15 of 23 Old 01-10-2009, 12:24 AM
 
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You know, I know where you are coming from. I have to stop and ask myself every once in a while if choosing our own way of living, which is drastically different than some people I know, is okay or not.

Like, my friend IRL who has twins boys both play violin very well, and play a variety of organized ports, and they take time to memorize poetry every day, as well as do formal lessons each day and have been reading since they were 5. Yeah. Can't really keep up with that, now can I? This mom is totally competitive and is all about making sure her kids are well rounded and will have a big shot at their future by getting them amped up young. So, that's her thing, and I am okay now with it not being mine. I mean, if we have interests outside of homelife, we pursue them, but if it fits with our desires and goals, not just to make sure we are keeping up. That would drive us crazy!

I have to day, it took me a few years with reading about unschooling and letting it just sink in with time that I feel more comfortable dropping out of the rat race of kids and too many activities. You have time. Keep venting, too!! It helps, yeah?

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#16 of 23 Old 01-10-2009, 11:06 PM
 
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Well, I am not an unschooler, I'm a homeschooler, but I will say this.

My daughter by choice takes a lot of lessons out of the house and I sit down, listen to everything she wants to do and try to make it work and be guidance for her in what she will do. Last year when she was 4, she took dance more than once a week, gymnastics more than once a week, sang in choir, and other stuff I'm not going to remember. She taught herself freestyle and backstroke, and swam for our pool this past summer and was a real asset to her group. This fall she turned 5, and she's doing even more of what she wants and a small amount of what I make her do and still has hours and hours a day to play, ride bikes, see friends, explore her interests, do some chores.

Are her classes and activities valuable? Yes, absolutely.

My son is about to turn 4, and I'm pretty sure won't take any classes this year, having quit his activities by 3.5 'doesn't want teachers/coaches'. Maybe he will stay out of classes / coached sports forever or maybe until he's 6, 8, 10. Is his time valuably spent? Absolutely.

Kids blossom at different rates, times and in different colors. And willingness to take coaching / be "taught," though rewarded in childhood does not seem to be a big predictor of success (or failure) at age 30.

I think if we were schoolers things would be "crazy" but since we are not there is lots of time.
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#17 of 23 Old 01-11-2009, 12:32 AM
 
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Originally Posted by greenthumb3 View Post
Being busy is the new status symbol.

Inevitably, this gets passed from parents who place value on being busy and accomplishing things 200% of the time to their children.

One of the reasons we chose to forgo school is to give our kids the gift of an unhurried childhood. Part of having a childhood is not entering the adult world of "competition" for as long as humanly possible; if ever (at least, I hope for my kids).

Don't get sucked in to living up to someone else's way of placing value on themselves. Some people only feel important if they are busy doing things that others see as valuable. It's like they are going 100 miles an hour and jumping up and down, shouting, "Look at me! Look at me! Look how great I am!" And this just naturally gets passed on to their kids. Or parents who never felt they had any bragging rights get their kids involved in everything so they can prove their own worth through their kids' accomplishments.

I say, do what you enjoy and do things that make a difference. Find your own way of being happy and fulfilled and support your child in how they want to feel fulfilled, but hopefully, you and your child can know it's not a requirement to be a Superperson in order to feel good.
I struggle with this as well. Thank you for your post. It was eye opening for me.

We are currently not signed up for one single thing. Many of my h/s friends have the best curriculum money can buy, do piano, swim, go skiing, lots of mini vacations. We stay at home. Play games, bake bread, have fun. I always feel so defeated. But your right! It's a status symbol.
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#18 of 23 Old 01-11-2009, 02:32 PM
 
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Some kids love to take classes and lessons etc and enjoy them and thrive and it's great for them. Some don't.

Some kids really like to sit down with worksheets and learn things in a formal way. Some don't.

One great thing about homeschooling in general is that you can do individually what works best for each child.

I think our society gives more "points" to things that are learned in a formal way, knowledge that is "proven" by testing, early academic accomplishments, and lots of activities involving formal lessons or group participation. But those ways don't fit every kid.

IMO, an activity or approach that is a perfect fit for that individual child is WAY better than having them involved in or doing something that is not the best fit for them. If what is the best fit for a child is learning by playing in his/her own way at home, then that is better than any formal approach or activity that they aren't well suited to. KWIM ?

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#19 of 23 Old 01-11-2009, 02:42 PM
 
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You're doing great, mama! Your DD wants to do all those things, so you can fascilitate that for her. Your DS does not. He must really love being with you!
Sounds exactly like my two (who are also 2 years apart). DS is just now taking a clay class, and he was pretty nervous prior to sitting down at that big art table!
DD and I start ballet next Saturday. She cannot wait!
The thing I am struggling with, that I am adding here because your two are so different as well, is not comparing them or allowing myself to become frustrated with DS because he's not as willing as DD. I am reading about it for the umpteenth time in Siblings Without Rivalry. Love them both for who they are. Listen to their hearts abd desires. Trust them to lead. All will be just as it should be

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#20 of 23 Old 01-11-2009, 02:57 PM
 
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Well, it depends on why you are doing it. If you want your kids in classes just because everyone else is doing it then of course, that's silly.

But some kids love classes. I'm a little uncomfortable with the posts that are implying that the other mom is pushing her kids. Sure, she might be. Many parents do. And on the other hand, maybe her young kids love all this stuff and enjoy it. I have a homeschooling friend who has to limit her kids. She finally had to tell them that *she* couldn't handle all the classes and sports activities they wanted to take part in and they had to each pick X number at a time (they are older now - 9 and 12, but she's had this problem for years).

As Rivka said, we don't have to put down others to make ourselves feel good (um, paraphrasing). And as a few other posters said, the great thing about unschooling is that it acknowledges the individuality of each child. Pushing a child to activities they aren't interested in is bad, but so would be denying a child classes because the unschooling parent thinks that "isn't unschooling".

So to the OP, if your children aren't into activities, then you don't do them. If your children are, or someday decide they are, then you do them (to the best of your ability and budget of course). Are they *necessary*? No. You can unschool just fine without classes and activities. But if your child enjoys them, then they have value. And if you sign your daughter up for the class she is begging to take, you'll still be an unschooler and I hope no one here will say you are pushing your kids.
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#21 of 23 Old 01-11-2009, 06:04 PM
 
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FTR, my kids are in a lot of activities. They love them, so we do them. But i also think they could live without them and be fine.

What I do not do as a mother is write emails and send letters and brag about it to my friends. That is what I understood was the problem with the OP - How to deal with the bragging former friend, and the whole keeping up with the Jones idea.

Obviously I misunderstood the OP's problem since everyone else understood it differently. My post was meant to be humorous, but I realize not everyone shares my sense of humor.
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#22 of 23 Old 01-12-2009, 01:29 PM
 
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Our whole culture is GO-GO-GO!!! We're supposed to be doing something and experiencing something ever waking moment. I'm not actually seeing much societal benefit to that.

If your kids and your family thrives on being super busy, go for it.

If not, enjoy each other at home, peacefully. I would go *insane* trying to keep the schedules many of my peers keep. My kids would go crazy too. I notice that in our busier weeks tempers tend to flare and attitudes go down the tubes. It just doesn't work for us.
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#23 of 23 Old 01-13-2009, 03:15 AM
 
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IMO, an activity or approach that is a perfect fit for that individual child is WAY better than having them involved in or doing something that is not the best fit for them. If what is the best fit for a child is learning by playing in his/her own way at home, then that is better than any formal approach or activity that they aren't well suited to. KWIM ?


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