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Old 24.08.2011, 22:24
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

We've never really done extracurricular activities either. My son is very chatty, very social and loves being with people. But he doesn't want to be 'organised' - what he wants to do is play Lego with his friends, creating fantastic 'other worlds' battle scenes and playing out complicated imaginary scenarios, all accompanied by non-stop voiceovers. Sometimes he does little mini stop animation films with my iPhone. Or he wants to scavenge around the garden with his sister and make a den out of tree prunings, and then move into it for the day with books and snacks. Or he just comes and hangs in the kitchen with me whilst I'm cooking, or in the laundry room whilst I'm ironing, and we have one of those long 'working side by side with no eye contact' kind of chats about grown-up issues, like war, or debt, or drugs and so on. He's 11, and it's fascinating watching him beginning to form an adult mind.

I've always offered activities - he's tried various sports, Scouts and musical instruments, but is happy to just do a few months or even a one-session taster and then explain it just hasn't grabbed him. One day, something will get its hooks into him and he will live and breathe X. Or maybe he won't. Maybe he'll bobble along, having a little try at many, many different things just for the experience. I completely get this. I've done one parachute jump. I've fired a rifle on a range once. I did a scuba diving session, one time. I went on a weekend bread baking course. It's not that I didn't enjoy any of those things, I did, immensely - but there are so many other new things to try!

He did the local Morges-area Passeport-Vacances scheme last October, where kids can sign up for a range of activities to keep them amused during the 2-week holiday. He did a course on engraving pictures on wood, one of stone carving, did a round of golf, visited the Bex Salt Mines, spent a day at the army barracks and several other things that escape me now. Each day, a new thing, with total stranger kids and an unknown instructor, all looked forward to with breathless excitement. That's a different approach to the discipline and commitment involved in 'swimming every Tuesday at 4pm for the last two years', but it's no less valid.

And I must admit I don't push too hard. I love unscheduled time. School holidays, with the yawning vista of unplanned hours, is marvellous to us. If he really wanted to do something, then of course I'd support that and take him, but I'm not going to cajole and chivvy his lukewarm butt out of the house because I have some vague notion of a rounded middle-class childhood, or because I think it'll look good on his college applications. Although ask me again in a few years about the college apps - might have a different view then...
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