The March school break has come and gone, and with it the stress of getting your child looked after – or enrolled in activities -- the whole time. Before I had children, I was blissfully unaware of the sheer amount of responsibility that is inherent in parenting. Before our number of children doubled, I thought I had this 'parenting' business down pat.
As it turns out,I did not.
Then the second one came along, and as he has grown, so have his interests, activities and preferences. What he was comfortable doing a year ago is completely off-putting to him now. Drag him to another arena for his sister's ringette practices or game? He has next to no interest, unless, of course, that arena has video games. Put him in his own learn-to-skate ice times, though, and he has enthusiasm a mile wide. It's great to see.
So my daughter's school break this year posed some unique challenges – for my son, who is not yet school age, I had to convince him that whatever his sister was doing wasn't nearly as interesting as it seemed to her. For instance, if she was heading to play laser tag with her cousins, I had to tell my son that my daughter was going to go run around in a dark, noisy room – something he finds frightening, and so, he didn't melt down and insist on accompanying her.
Later in the week, he expressed interest in another one of her activities, and ignoramus that I am, I failed to make it less enthralling in his mind than going to his day care, and he promptly melted down. Three-year-old meltdowns are tougher than toddler meltdowns, because they entail keeping the meltdown contained – which is so much easier when you can the child up and take them someplace more soothing to calm their nerves. When my three-year-old – all 48 inches and 64 pounds of him – starts to melt down, the only hope is that it's happening when he's in the car and strapped into the seatbelt.
Otherwise, well, hide.
That brings us to a whole other issue. In our capitalist world, we as parents, must somehow ensure that our children are looked after every minute of every day until the age of about 11. That, unfortunately, means that of the 10 or so weeks a year they’re not in school, they've got to be supervised. Many parents get plenty of vacation time from their jobs, but most don't get 10 weeks to hang out with their families. Many families split vacation time to ensure that their kids are looked after when there is no supervision available. If you're an entrepreneur, it's even less time to spare. You don't work – you don't make money. It's a tough situation for many.
Topping it off, it's a week off in March, with the weather firmly vacillating between winter cold and snow and spring's glory. It's not like a week in July, when you know you can hit the beach and hang out all day. No, you've got to get things planned – and that's a whole other column, for a whole other week.