Among the hidden costs of parenting are the sacks of nickels and dimes embedded in various childrens’ extracurricular activities. You’ll learn about them once your kids are emotionally committed to whatever it is they’re doing. The experience feels a bit like buying a car because they’re expenses for things a rational human being might assume were included in the price, but are cheerfully itemized later. (“Oh, you want the car delivered from Japan?“)
For example, my daughter was in a dance class whose efforts would culminate with a performance of The Nutcracker. Once she was immersed, they threw add-ons like money for recitals and rehearsal, tickets for each family member attending, money for the DVD of the presentation (no personal filming allowed), tax, title, dealer installed ferromagnetic undercoating, the special one-time outfit (which was useful for Chinese New Year), etcetera.
I was commenting about this to the lady who runs the my other child’s preschool. She said it gets worse: her son’s little league was around $2,000 a year. He’s somewhat older and more responsible, and to help him earn money to offset the cost, they were going to host a parent’s night out for a modest fee. Parents could enjoy Valentine’s Eve.
“Quality, affordable childcare” and “Date with my spouse” are my two favorite phrases to hear. (Runners up: “Go ahead and bike all day,” and “Mostly sunny”) They’d entertain the kids from 5pm to 9pm. Wohoo!
Then I tried to find something for us to do during that timeframe…
Sunset would be at 5:28pm, precluding any outdoor activities like walks or cycling. Plus, it’s a bit chilly… in February.
Our first choice of an indoor venue was the Seattle Art Museum. We’d love to visit, but it’s not very simpatico with the kiddos. It closes at 5pm. Next option, the Seattle Aquarium. The kids love it, but we’ve never made it past the octopus. It closes at 5pm. Seattle Symphony: Nothing scheduled tonight.
I’m beginning to think the entire city of Seattle closes at 5pm. On a Friday.
I scan the movie listings. My wife’s very averse to movie violence, which seems to nix all of the titles that I’ve heard of. The two or three that are good date movies are playing at small theatres at least an hour away. Neither of us wants to spend half our date night in traffic.
By this point, I’m at a total loss, and blurt out the word “bowling”. I’m not sure how or why she knows this, but there’s a small bowling alley in one of the neighboring cities that’s non-smoking and, rumor has it, serves decent pizza. Neither of us has been bowling in at least five years, but we think it would be fun.
So tonight, we rented a lane for an hour and got in three full games, each with the little gutter guards on. During the second game, my left arm feels slightly elongated (and sore), so I alternate bowling right vs left handed. The alley does their “cosmic bowling” — black lighting and a flashing disco ball — which inexplicably makes both of us better at ricocheting the ball off the gutter guards, and our scores go up a lot.
After pizza, we have some time to stop at home for ice cream before we have to pick up the kids. It’s wonderful spending some quiet moments at home, finishing a conversation.
The kids had a great time, too, and shower us with five pounds of art projects.