As another school year winds to a close, with an endless procession of ballgames, track meets and band concerts, I've been thinking once again about the way we parents become enslaved to our kids' activities.
And make no mistake -- kids these days have more activities to choose from than ever before in history. Faced with so many choices, most don't simply pick A, B or C. Instead, they tend to go with D: all of the above.
So what do you do when your children play football, basketball, soccer and baseball AND sing in the chorus AND have a role in the school play AND belong to the local Scout troop AND your church youth group?
For one thing, you might as well resign yourself to sharing chauffeur duty with your spouse nearly every night of the week. I say "sharing," not "splitting," because the two of you will probably be going in different directions.
Meanwhile, you can forget about having dinner at home together as a family -- except perhaps on Sundays, which probably ought to be set aside for just that purpose. But hey, you can always DVR the UGA game and watch it sometime later, such as when your kids are grown.
The important thing is that you never, ever, under any circumstances, discourage your children from participating in any (wholesome) activity. That's because all those activities, however they may inconvenience you, serve to make a child more "well-rounded," which is a term we use to describe people who aren't good at anything in particular.
After all, who wouldn't want to be the proud father of an Eagle Scout-slash-second baseman who also sings and dances and won this year's "Agriculture and You" poster contest? Just think how that will affect the child's future, when in order to get into college he has to field ground balls on the Appalachian Trail while doing a number from Cats and simultaneously drawing a tractor.
Besides, you never know what your children might to be good at. Any one of their activities might lead to a lucrative career, or a college scholarship, or at least a $50 loan from a former classmate who actually had talent.
For example, you might not be into theater, but do you have any idea what Tom Cruise gets paid for a single film? About what Albert Pujols makes in a season -- and that's with his clothes on. (Cruise, I mean. I don't know if Pujols gets paid extra for taking his clothes off.)
So while you're hauling your kids around, spending interminable hours sitting on bleachers and folding chairs, and eating ballpark hot dogs, just look at it as a kind of retirement plan, albeit a risky one.
Because at least one of your kids is going to have to hit it REALLY big just to make up for all the money you're spending on gas.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and author of "Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility," available at Books for Less in Buford and on Amazon. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit familymanthebook.com.