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Why Does My 7-year-old Need a Blackbelt?

Spanish lessons on Monday. Piano Tuesday. Tap Wednesday. Gymnastics Thursday. Acting classes Friday.

Today, kids after school activities sound like a barrage of programs and classes that rival what I even did in college . Parents tell me their kids love it, ask for the sessions, even as the mom (it's almost always the mom) sits there with dark circles and a slow, drooped smile saying how much she loves it too. I always found the scheduling hilarious. But now I'm wondering if the joke is on me.

The Rabbit takes tap and piano classes two days a week -- one for each. I'm the one that found the ceramic course, the karate classes and mused about starting a science club until she put a kabbash on my frantic plans. "Mama, I want some time to just play." Sigh. It's hard when your 7-year-old is more sane than you.

But I do worry (I live in New York surrounded by other helicopter parents, how could I not worry?) that with every other kid in classes 4 to 5 times a week, has the normal playing field standards been raised? In other words, is The Rabbit falling behind as she just starts 3rd grade?

What happens when colleges expect to see not just good S.A.T. scores, grades and a couple of extra-curriculars (track team maybe, and school newspaper reporter)? What happens when everyone is a black belt, can play Schubert, dash off pithy phrases in Mandarin and score a perfect ten on the uneven bars before the enter freshman year? Will afternoons spent eating fruit snacks and reading American Girls books have cut it?

I'd like to think she's following more along the footsteps of Frank Lloyd Wright who came home each day to play with blocks with his mom than on a pathway to slackerhood. Of course she's not Wright, I know that. She hates blocks. (yes, you're meant to laugh there.) And my daughter reads, does well in school and has an incredible laugh that when I hear makes me amazed I survived so long on earth without her in existance.

So in my gut, I know she's fine. I know she'll grow up, go to college, find a career, hopefully someone to love, and one day have a child whose laugh makes her believe in fairies again. But in the meantime I'm thinking of starting a Girl's Scout troop. That Science in Action badge looks fun!


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