No you can’t have a kitten. No you can’t eat only chocolate chips for breakfast. No you can’t wear shorts in the snow. Sometimes saying ‘no’ is easy-peasy when you’re a parent.
Sometimes it’s not.
In February, a Tae Kwon Do company came to Miss S’s elementary school and ran a gym class. The kids got to punch, break boards, and kick paddles.
However you feel about a company coming into a public school to peddle their services, Miss S was hooked. “My favourite part is the punching,” she said.
There was a flyer in her backpack: $39.99 for six weeks worth of twice a week lessons. Miss S wanted to start right away.
Being parents who want to give their girls the opportunity to sample as many sports as possible before they’re funnelled into a specialty, we said yes, then took two weeks to sign her up.
It is at the dojo that the other shoe dropped. Once the steal of a deal, six-week price ended, the real cost would kick in: $150 per month, with a three-month cancelation policy. Which means unless we get a doctor’s note saying she needs out immediately, the company automatically gets $450 while we wait out our three months.
Toto, I don’t think we’re in community recreation anymore.
Of course, we would love to indulge Miss S. She never complains about going to class. She giggles through sit-ups, laughs while punching as hard as she can for 30 seconds and refuses to quit when she’s timed for frog jumps.
Individual sport looks good on Miss S. She can go at her own pace, and it’s different than anything her sisters have ever done.
But spending $1800 a year on one child’s activities when you have a total of three children is not in the cards for our family. At least not when the child in question is seven. Talk to us again when they’re all teenagers. Then the $5400 a year it will cost for all three girls’ to do specialized sports might be worth losing a vacation over.
Somehow saying no to seven-year-old Miss Q’s horse dreams was easier.
Everyone knows how expensive horses are, so, “no” is more socially acceptable, even if the horse is being given away for a steal of a deal at $1.00.
But Tae Kwon Do? It’s martial arts: no travel, no hotels, no fundraising. The uniform is free. Belt testing costs $10. How could you say no?
With extreme difficulty. My brain is in constant war with my heart. But as parents, we always have to look at the bigger picture.
Miss S is seven. She wants to continue with Brownies, swim, skate, play field hockey and return to soccer next fall. She talks about going to Hawaii to learn how to surf, and hasn’t even discovered baseball, basketball, or bobsledding yet.
So, at least for now, maybe our parental ‘no’ is really code for: if you love something set it free, if it comes back it was meant to be. And while we wait, you can bet we’ll be saving our nickels and hoping our children ask us easier yes/no questions.