This milestone was brought on gradually, and it completely blindsided me, but it changed my family’s operation indefinitely. It was about a year ago when I had the epiphany that this milestone was even occurring to us. But the tables have officially turned: my kids now dictate more of our calendar than we do.
For some context, my oldest daughter’s kindergarten year was cut short in spring 2020 by the pandemic, and her next school year was anything but ordinary. Things picked up in second grade, and so did her activities. Seemingly overnight, we found ourselves going from needing to find things to do between periodic virtual happenings to shuttling her to several dance classes a week, meeting with a reading tutor outside of the house twice a week, committing to a monthly Girl Scouts event, and signing her up for weekly first communion preparation meetings. Beyond that, refreshingly, playdates, school parties, PTA events, and socialization became the norm again.
Now in third grade, the last three months have been a whirlwind since the school year started with only increased commitments for her (i.e., 13 hours a week at the dance studio, cheerleading at football games and camps). This rapid change from no evening and weekend child obligations to now having something on the daily itinerary for my kids has changed the family dynamic quickly - and after a year of this new normal, I’m still getting a handle on it. My wife and I live and die by a shared Google Calendar, our kitchen whiteboard and precious, well-calculated 15-minute increments.
I have no room to bellyache. Several of our neighbors have multiple kids older than ours who are active in sports. I’ve concluded that youth can’t really play organized sports casually anymore. Today, committing to recreational sports mandates tryouts, several weekly practices and weekend-long commitments. I’m in awe of what these families can juggle for their children. They're mastery of this far exceeds my abilities at the moment.
Of course, our squad is only just getting started. My son is in kindergarten and is lacing it up this winter for a sixth different sport he’s trying. He’s already had several birthday parties with classmates this fall. And our youngest, who is only three, is following in her big sister’s footsteps with dance. We also recently hosted her first ever playdate with a classmate who lives in our neighborhood.
To be completely and utterly clear: none of this is a complaint. I feel truly blessed that my kids are invited to be social with their friends and peers, and that they are healthy enough to try various activities.
Yes, happy hours or relaxing weeknights are few and far between. But I’m keenly aware that these obligations build their character, challenge them in new ways, open up their perspectives, and are shaping who they are. We get the highest honor of supporting their growth through these activities from the sidelines. We also get the honor of chauffeuring them around town, making sure water bottles are filled, snacks are prepared, and uniforms are washed.
And someday we will miss all of this hustle. This won’t last forever, and we keep this in mind everyday. As stressful as it can be, I’m doing my best to cherish this time and these moments - and I wouldn’t have life right now any other way.
-Steven Michalovich, Regular Contributor
CBUS Dads is a community of central Ohio area dads balancing an active lifestyle with being an involved parent. A Saturday for us may involve enjoying morning t-ball, lunch at a new local spot and an evening at a summer festival with our families. We may live downtown, in the suburbs or somewhere between, but our common thread is that we continue to experience the community we love - now as parents.