The dreaded ECA (extra-curricular activity)
To get the record straight before we even start this story: I’m not one of those over-achieving mums who lives their lives vicariously through their kids. You know: the ones whose kids go after school to Arabic classes, tap-dancing, horse-riding, tennis, swimming, hip-hop, gymnastics, Arabic tap-dancing on ice-skating ponies.
I’m far too lazy.
Seriously, I’m one of those mums who believes a child needs to be a child. My priority for my children after school and homework is done is that they run about in the park playing hide ‘n’ seek with their friends, ride their bikes down the road like they’re in the Tour de France, and mess about in our pool. Heck, maybe even watch a bit of TV.
God knows, they get it hard enough at their school.
But DD asked me after the summer if she could take up an after-school dance class. “Not a kiddy one, mummy, but a proper dance class. I want to be a dancer.” (I am so not a stage mum.)
After quizzing her a million times before paying for a term’s worth of stage-school classes up front (AED 85 [£15.45] a pop, non-refundable), I finally agreed. And I genuinely love driving her half way round the city to her class each week and waiting around in the middle of the desert for an hour, because she clearly loves her dance class.
But then came the missed classes. One, she was tired. Two, she was sick. And three, she had the netball league match at school. Netball was optional. I gave her the choice: dance or netball. She chose the netball. I was surprised, but pleased. She likes netball!
“So how was it?” I asked her afterwards, thinking not at all of the wasted dance class.
“You enjoyed it? Glad you went?”
“Yeah. It was great.”
Sigh of relief from me. A little jump of excitement, even: she, Little Miss Non-Sporty, likes netball!
“It was fun,” DD continued, “because I was sitting out most of the matches. “And I was with my friend C. She had almonds so we ate all her almonds. Then her mum came and she had some cool stuff on her phone so we watched, like, videos?”
“Is that it? Is that the reason you liked netball?”
“No! Not just that.”
“C’s older brother was there doing his homework too, so we watched him… that was fun.”
Facepalm. “So did you play any netball?”
“A bit. At the end.”
So, in reality, I paid AED 85 for my daughter to eat almonds, watch videos and enjoy watching her friend’s big brother do his homework. What will her teens be like?