Thursday, March 03, 2005

Bodies in Motion

Conversation this morning:

It’s time to get up.

I’m tired.

I know, but it’s time to get up. You don’t want to be late for school, do you?

I think I’m sick. I coughed last night, and now I feel like throwing up.

Your forehead is cool, you’re fine.

You are sooooo unfair!!!

Quinn, get up.

Some of my most heated arguments are internal because right now, I am an unwilling participant in nearly all aspects of my life. Any suggestion from anyone to do anything draws a reflexive sigh and a pouty shoulder slump that hasn’t been seen since I was 14. If Jesus, Buddha and Yahweh showed up on my doorstep, arm in omnipotent arm, and invited me to lunch my response right now would be, “well, okay, but that means I have to find my shoes.”

It’s not depression. I have felt that black beast on occasion, and this isn’t it. It’s that my daughter is enriched and I am depleted. Because I have an only child and we live in a city full of neat things to do and learn, I have spent the better part of the last three years driving to distant neighborhoods and looking for signs that say things like Puppet Making for Pre-Schoolers or Love Them Lizards! A Herpetological Adventure for 3-5 year olds.

I do understand how the brain works. [Daughter took a weekend class called Nuts About the Nervous System and I picked up some facts. Sad fact number one: she is not going to remember any of these classes.]

Nor is this, I swear to you, a closet fixation to tee her up for Harvard, with Yale as her safety. It’s like this: an ex-boyfriend once described me as “idling higher” than anyone he ever knew. Apparently, I just have to keep moving, and giving birth didn’t change this. And, as an alcoholic probably isn’t well-served by living in New Orleans, the compulsively mobile person with a child shouldn’t live in Los Angeles. Even if you do nothing, you are still in your car for at least an hour every day. And my baby and I, we certainly don’t do nothing. If it’s cheap and age-appropriate, you’ve seen us there. Or, you have seen me circling the block outside, my mouth contorted into a spasm of rage as I stalk a parking space.

Of course, even I have a limit for enrichment activities. The thought of her schedule today makes me want to lie down on the floor, whimper, and kick my legs. And today’s a relatively simple day -- two after-school classes, but they are in the same place, consecutively. I hate that the trunk of my car looks like the dumpster behind Capezio (I tried describing it as a Capezio warehouse but Consort said unsympathetically “No, a warehouse is organized"). I am tired of finding hobbies that can be done while sitting in unstable folding chairs in narrow hallways. I know, I built this little life. But now I have to find a way to pare it down or, failing that, finesse an open-ended Valium prescription.

Cutting back isn’t going to be easy. I have helped create a child whose first response upon seeing something new and interesting is “I should take a class in that!” And who doesn’t want to encourage that kind of passion for learning?


So, I am now going to do my impersonation of Martin Luther, and nail some new rules up on the Church of Enrichment.

1. Daughter is taking Spanish in school. Ergo, I am not responsible for finding her a class in Mandarin, no matter how pretty she thinks the Chinese restaurant menus look.
2. Daughter may take one dance class a week. Said dance class should be proximal to my house. No matter how much she may like the outfits, I am not driving across town to a Flamenco class. She may click castanets at home, if she feels so inclined.
3. I understand that Math scores are improved by learning piano. However, I do not have the strength right now to take on any activity that comes with a nightly nag (“I want to hear you practicing young lady, and I mean now!”).
4. If the sports equipment is taller than she is, I don’t have to think about it yet. No tennis, no skiing, no fencing. This also includes French Horn and Harp.

Down time is important. Boredom, for children, is part of growing up. The rest of her life is not going to be centered on feeding her fun facts and themed snacks. I now understand that a mother who doesn’t have to take yoga to get rid of cheap-chair sciatica is a better mother in the long run.

As soon as we finish the Shakespeare for Tots season, and the History of Rabbits in Painting class at the museum, we are so kicking back.


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