Friday, February 10, 2012

TGIF, Not!

"Thank God It's Friday! Time to partaaaaay! Woo-hoo!!!"

Those are statements you won't hear coming out of my mouth anytime soon. More like DIF -- "Darn It's Friday." That's because Friday is the day of the brain-numbing doubleheader. No, I don't mean consecutive baseball games. Rather, back-to-back boys' activities at two different locations.

Argh. It's like undergoing a lobotomy.

First let me say that The Winter of Charlie is going better than expected. Following an autumn during which Christopher's activities dominated, I decided that I needed to focus on my younger son for a while. The tagging-along-and-waiting-around-and-being-stuck-in-another-city scene while Chris played football, participated in Cub Scouts, and performed in a Christmas show did a number on Charlie's behavior and my patience. To reverse the damage, I vowed to swap the activity load of both boys.

Charlie now does gymnastics twice a week (at a YMCA and gymnastics academy) and plays basketball once a week. He completed a series of four group ski lessons on consecutive Sundays last month and has recently started group skating lessons on Wednesdays. Four sports clinics per week for the past month-plus. It sounds like a heavy schedule -- and it would be for many other five-year-old boys as well as eight-year-old Christopher -- but it feels just right for the boisterous baby of the family. I'm pleased as pie that he is exerting his boundless physical energy in a constructive manner instead of taking it out aggressively on his brother.

Christopher, meanwhile, takes just one weekly basketball clinic and one jazz/hip hop dance class. He seems satisfied with his schedule, if a bit winded toward the end of hoop games. He could stand to get more exercise this season, but I can't (and won't) add any more clinics to the plan.

The problem -- and, believe me, there would have been many more if I'd had snowstorms to contend with! -- is the Friday lineup. After a long, tiring week, I pick the boys up at school by car to drive them to a gymnastics academy in a nearby town. Charlie took a class there all last year. I liked the intimate setting, made friends with several of the other mothers, and viewed my fatherless son's male teacher as a role model for him.

But this season, the experience has been flipped on its head -- appropriate for a gymnastics class, I suppose. The place is now jam-packed with parents, students, and younger siblings, i.e. noisy toddlers and preschoolers. So long, intimate setting! Hello, crowded and confined space! Seriously, the dimensions of the two waiting areas are roughly 12 x 5 feet, which includes the space taken up by the folding metal chairs. Even minus the wee ones, the place can be really loud when children upstairs run then jump on a springboard into a foam pit. The ceiling thuds, making me worry that the building is going to cave in. Last year during class, I had no means -- or desire -- to get on the Internet. My mother friends and I often talked the whole forty-five minutes. I never even opened the magazines I brought with me. This year, not having made new friends yet, I attempt to read or check e-mail or Facebook on my new iPad. But I can't get an Internet connection in the cave-like second-floor space. Several of the mothers, in fact, I do know from the elementary school. However, they don't stick around for class, opting instead to run errands or pass the time at Starbucks. Oh, and the positive male role model? He is not teaching Charlie this year. Considering that I am already worn out from the week, the now hour-long Friday afternoon session feels like a marathon.

It would seem like a lot of time to have a half hour break between Charlie's gymnastics and Christopher's jazz/hip hop dance class. But it is not when you factor in the snack rush -- obtaining a bag of fruit snacks and/or cheddar cheese goldfish and/or a bottle of water -- as well as the time it takes for my rambunctious child to put on his sweaty socks, sneakers, and coat. The Y is less than ten minutes away, yet we arrive with only five to spare. Well-behaved Christopher, who has most likely declined the offer of snacks at the first facility, now wants a treat from the larger display. He chooses a blueberry scone and promptly inhales it.

Charlie and I tried waiting outside the room that doubles as a dance studio, peeking through the window to watch class from time to time. But two weeks in a row my eyes burned something fierce while reading in this location. The lighting, I concluded, was poor. So we moved to the seating area near the cafe at the front of the Y. Grand Central Station, basically. There Charlie and I fell into our old song and dance routine of killing time while he emptied my wallet on snacks. Today's total: $12, and that was getting off easy as neither boy chose a food or drink at the gymnastics academy. Me? Having missed lunch, I succumbed to a chicken salad wrap and bag of mixed nuts to satisfy my salt craving. Class finally ended, and we could ditch this joint. Praise the Lord! Or was I stuck in a scene in Groundhog Day as it took one . . . more . . . entire . . . half . . . hour to get home due to the finishing up or packing up of snacks and the putting back on of socks, shoes, and jackets?

Somebody shoot me, please! Gone three and a half hours, and I feel like I've been waterboarded.


What are your Fridays like?


  1. Go Christopher... the jazz/hip hop class! Is that at the Sterling Y? And is Christopher, by any chance, the only boy? My son loves hip hop, and he enthusiastically signed up for a class (not at the Y), only to bag it when he was mortified by being the only boy! So I've been futilely looking for an all-boy or co-ed class.

  2. Yes, Sterling Y. There is one other boy in the class ad about five girls.

  3. He likes the class. They are putting on a show in June. You could sign your son up now, I would think. It's a female teacher. I was hoping for a cool young male teacher. Oh, well. I'm not sure if he will stay in the class after June. I guess we'll decide after we see the show.