Henry doesn't do any after-school activities. He doesn't attend a French class; he's not learning to play piano. He doesn't play soccer on the weekends, or basketball. His oboe is really neglected these days, because he doesn't take oboe lessons, and also, wait, we have no oboe.
I would say this is because I am lazy, but his taking a class or two would give me a little more free time, so it's not really that. Really it's because he doesn't want to.
I should put that in all caps. HE DOESN'T WANT TO. I mean: he really, really doesn't. I've suggested a couple of classes that I thought he'd be interested in, and every time I bring it up, he looks at me like I'm announcing that we're going to send him away forever. To a lovely military school, perhaps, or just a third-world country, where he can help them dig wells! The eyes, they fill with tears. He really does not want to do anything else. He likes coming home and relaxing. He prizes his Lego time. He likes to watch two (two! gasp!) television shows after school whilst enjoying a snack, and then he turns to his Legos, and then it's dinner time. On the weekend, he will not be rushed. It's all we can do to get him to put on some pants. If it's nice out we'll go to the playground, and if it's not, all he wants to do is (surprise) play with Legos, or draw, or read.
This is not my confession.
My confession is that I have a hard time just letting him be. I fret. I ask him constantly if there's ANYTHING he might want to do. I am cowed by the parents around us, who, when I call them for a playdate, seem to only have a day or two each week free because their schedule's so chock full of extracurriculars. Now, I know we're never going to be over-scheduled--I am not a fan of that idea, and besides, my son would never ever go along with it. But he should be doing something, I think. Right? But he won't go for it.
I've tried. I bring home pamphlets about soccer classes, and he insists, "I hate soccer. I don't know how to play it."
"But you'll learn," I tell him.
He shakes his head. "I hate to learn."
He's a little strong-willed, you guys. Just a little. He knows what he likes, and he won't back down, even when faced with statements like YOU'VE NEVER TRIED IT and YOU'RE ONLY SEVEN and COME ON.
Now, I realize I could force him. I could drag him to the park and insist that he get on that field and have some wholesome fun! But why? Because I have some vague worry that I'm failing him or neglecting him by not pushing him hard enough, that's why. So I'll make him hate me! THAT'S a much better proposition.
So on the one hand, I leave him alone, and fail to give him the opportunity to experience anything outside his comfort zone. On the other hand, I harangue and harangue until he reluctantly does something but ends up just resenting me and feeling like there's something inherently wrong with who is he and what he likes.
Parenting is really goddamn hard.