Suburban Snapshots

I Might be Having a
First-World Parenting Crisis

Monday, September 03, 2012

Sometimes I don't feel like going through the hassle of booking an appointment with our counselor to talk over a single issue, and when that happens I turn to you, Internet, to play Unbiased Party. Plus you don't charge me a co-pay.

My 6-year-old niece has been taking horseback riding lessons for several months. We've watched her a few times and have seen her wobbly trot become a confident gallop, and though Anna is usually too distracted by barn dogs or horse penises to really pay attention, she's said more than once that she'd like to ride horses too.

To date Anna has taken and loved gymnastics, and though neither Steve or I are under the illusion she will excel and go on to spend thousands of hours perfecting her skills under the stern but loving care of a burly Russian coach (this description is based entirely on a bunch of movies I watched in the 80s) she'll continue. She took ballet which none of us enjoyed, and a quick stint swimming which will resume in a couple of weeks so I can stop growing gray hairs at the beach. Oh, and last summer she spent 3 days lying on a soccer field telling us she was tired.

Steve's been showing her BMX and skateboard videos and she's excited by them, she says she wants to try everything. I'm down for letting her have a go at almost anything except hockey, because I'm a morning person and I still think 7 a.m. games are kind of bullshit. Also the money tree died when we bought this house.

The trouble is that Steve feels the same way about horseback riding as I do about hockey.

It's a pricey activity, no doubt. I imagine that seeing my lanky 4-year-old perched on the back of a 7-foot horse will scare the manure out of me, and the whole thing is at odds with the world I was raised in. On Long Island, girls who rode horses also got BMWs at their sweet sixteens.

But the ones who keep horses at the stable where my niece practices look so responsible, or at the very least, so modestly dressed. They tie and brush, walk and shovel, and it all seems like there are so many lessons beyond how to get the animal to go this direction or that on command. They're just regular kids whose parents probably have to really work their lessons and boots and equipment into the monthly budget.

I've relented for now, I'm giving this one to Steve because gives into me almost 100% of the time. I know if Anna wants to do it she'll ask again, and if she asks enough he'll let her go because that's the kind of dad (and husband) he is. But I don't want to miss an opportunity and in general, it's hard for me to keep my trap shut when I feel like I have a valid argument.

What do you think, Internets? About horses, about kids being scheduled and overscheduled, about your own kids, or about how you live in a cardboard box outside a hockey rink somewhere so that your daughter can get to her 500 practices on time. Mostly that last part, because I don't want to have any guilt if she asks about hockey once she's old enough to play.

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