Saturday, January 24, 2009

Extra-Murals and Pitta Bread

My girls have been asking for pitta bread the last few days. I meant to make it last night for supper with meatballs, but forgot and ended up making shepherds pie with the defrosted mince instead. So this morning I’ve kneaded up some dough and left it to rise, hoping it will be ready in time for lunch after a leisurely start to the day.

In term time we treasure our Saturday morning lie-ins, which threaten to become a thing of the past if our son decides to join the cricket club. He is going to go to a training session and see how he likes it on Monday and they have matches most Saturday mornings. Our days of staying home at weekends are fading. Youngest has finally got us to arrange riding lessons for her, also starting Monday, so I have visions of us getting caught up in a whirl of our children’s extra mural activities just like those city parents I have been sympathizing with up till now.

We felt that we should offer Middle Daughter the chance to start some activity too, so found out about dancing lessons. She dithered a bit and only quite liked the idea. What she really wanted was for Dad to teach her photography, she said, as she wants to be a photographer when she grows up, like him. After looking at all the uniform and shoes required by the dancing school I breathed a sigh of relief - one less place to have to chauffeur a child, one less set of engagements to cram into a potentially hectic schedule, one less set of expensive equipment for a child to grow out of and need replacing. So Dad is committing to one proper lesson a week for her.

It’s not that we want to be mean and deprive our children of the chance of creative expression – it’s just that living in the country we already do 90km per day just on the school runs. Most of the activities they could do are in one or other local town, further away than school, at times that mean a separate round trip of another 50 – 90 km each time. Our clever idea of finding activities for all three that coincided more or less, just doesn't seem to work - different days, different times, different places. So up till now we have reckoned that they get enough creative expression between home and school.

So we shall see how all this goes. At 10 our son needs the chance to develop his natural sporting talents and that is the one thing Waldorf doesn’t really do – they do plenty of ball games and physical activities, just not conventional competitive sports.

And Youngest has been crazy about horses for a while now (unicorns too, but we couldn’t find a unicorn riding school in our area), so we thought she should learn properly now she is 6 and see if it will become a true passion or not, before we are cajoled into giving a horse a home on our farm. We have the space but I know they are demanding creatures and I am not a natural when it comes to horses, we just don’t have that telepathic connection – there is a blank wall between our minds.

The last time I rode, the horse bolted at the sight of a hare and I slid gracefully to the ground breaking a rib or two. I also have memories as a child of being left dangling from the low branch of a tree by the pony that was nominally mine, as he took the shortest route home, undeterred by my attempts at steering him. Nor could he ever be persuaded to go over the lowest of jumps for me, though he would do it for other people.

So if Youngest becomes a horse-mad girl she will have to do most of it herself and I will be venturing into new territory and a new social scene – the world of gymkanas and rosettes and horse boxes. But my imagination is leaping ahead here. Her first lesson is on Monday, Let it take her where she wills and may she not be dumped to the ground too often.

This post was going to be about food. The pitta bread is now shaped into rounds and rising once more. Now I need to bake it, so my extra mural digression will have to be the post itself. More about food another time.

How do you all cope with children's extra-mural activities?


  1. Actually, we've been cutting them out a bit. We (mostly me) went a little crazy signing our girls up for activities and the getting there and practicing involved turned into more stress than pleasure. My youngest seems to have found two passions, pottery and Aikido and my oldest, a small creative art class. She was in music and basketball, but it just wasn't fun or passionate for her. Since dropping those activities, we are all more relaxed.

  2. I can't imagine what it must be like to try and coordinate so many different schedules like that, and do that kind of distance driving, too. I can definitely see how you appreciate mornings when you can stay at home and structure the day as you go along.

  3. When I first saw your post about summer holidays I thought, how long have I been neglecting my blogs! It's funny because we are in the midst of an uncommonly freezing winter here.

    Anyway, my oldest is 7 and only goes to piano lessons once a week, but now the younger wants to play baseball in the spring, so I signed him up for that so I suspect I too am at the beinning of trying to figure out how/what to limit.

    It's hard because you want them to get to try/experience everything, but then... you don't want to have to experience it all too! ;-)

  4. Food post...child post...hey, whatever works :)

    We limit the extra activities. Our son gets one non-school activity in the spring and the autumn. We save winter and summer for travel. It just gets out of hand otherwise. A friend of mine has her daughter in 3 different extra-mural activities...she's always on the run and complaining about the stress of the schedule. To me it's not worth it.

  5. Umm... by not having kids of my own?! ;-) 90km per day just to school and back?? You are brave parents!


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!