I honestly don't know how big families do it. And by "it," I mean . . . everything. When I come home from work each day, I have to check the kid's backpack to see a) what she smuggled to school that day b) if she has any homework. Then, assuming she remembered to bring her insulated lunch bag home, I have to make her lunch for the next day. I tried letting her pack her own lunch the other day but when I looked in the bag, all she had packed were some Cheezits, chocolate almond milk, and a cookie. Nice try, kid.
On a typical evening, we have to stay on top of her to do her math, do 20 minutes of reading, take a shower, and eat her dinner. Add in a couple of "pick your shoes up" and "leave the dogs alone - they're busy," too, and you've got a typical evening at our house. I tell her that the dogs are too busy to play with her in attempt to get her to focus on her homework and whatnot. On Tuesdays, she also has choir rehearsal. Starting next week, she will also need to practice her clarinet.
Ah, the clarinet. She was SO excited to get her instrument. Last Friday, I took her to a music store after work. The guy behind the counter brought out a black case and opened it so that we could see the spiffy new clarinet. Here is how little I know about clarinets: I had no earthly idea that they come apart. When I saw the clarinet in the case, my immediate thought was that it had been mugged and dismembered in a dark alley (and then placed lovingly into little velvet compartments). My daughter immediately started pulling pieces out and admiring her new instrument. She came perilously close to dropping one of the pieces. The music store man frowned at her, "Better not touch until you've had your first lesson," he said.
"That's right," I agreed. "No touchy."
In addition to entering a rental agreement with the music store (to the tune of $30.00 a month), I had to buy a book, a music stand, etc. If she loses the clarinet, I get to pay the music store something like $798.00. If that actually happens, she won't see her iPad again until her children are grown.
A few days before we picked up the clarinet, I took her to see our optometrist. I had been getting annual exams for her but then the doctor said she didn't necessarily need to come in every year (unless I noticed an issue). So then I guess I lost track of how long it had been. Her last eye exam was when she was in first grade. Over the summer, it was actually my stepmom who noticed that A was holding books and such pretty darned close to her face. I'm not that observant, apparently. So, I decided it was about time I dragged the kid to the eye doctor.
She did not particularly want to go. We sat in the waiting room together while I filled out paperwork. The questions on the patient information paperwork didn't seem like they were meant for a kid. "Are you still single?" I asked her. "And you're still not Asian as far as you know?"
She rolled her eyes. "Mo-om!"
As I was filling out the rest of the forms, she found a spinning rack of kids' eye wear and started trying on some of the frames. "Mom! Look!" She flipped her hair and put her hand on her hip, smiling as she looked through the clear glass of the designer frames. "These. Are. So. Cute." she whispered excitedly. Then she tried on at least ten more, forcing me to look at her each time. All of a sudden, the idea of wearing glasses seemed very appealing to her.
A few minutes later, we were in the exam room. She was given several tests. On one of them, she had to determine, visually, which of four "bumps" was raised. She flunked that test. "Crap," I thought to myself. Dr. K gave her a bunch more tests and also played the ever-popular "Which looks better? This one or that one?" game with her.
"Do you think you need glasses?" he asked her.
"Um, I don't know," she responded.
Then he looked at me. "She could benefit from reading glasses, but . . . speaking as a parent, I wouldn't say that they're an absolute necessity." He then had her leave the room so that he could talk to me privately.
Basically, in a nutshell, he said that I should keep an eye on the situation. If she starts complaining of headaches and starts holding her books even closer, it might be time for some reading glasses. He didn't want to say any of that in front of her because, sensing that she really wants glasses now that she sees how stylish some of them are, he didn't want to talk about symptoms. In other words, if she knows that headaches are a sign of needing glasses, she'll be plagued by them for the next few weeks. Dr. K did note that whether we get glasses or we don't, her eyes won't get any better or worse either way. She may outgrow the farsightedness, too.
So, I'm still thinking about it. My main concern, honestly, is the fact that she is likely to lose them. Kinda like the clarinet.
Next month, her orthodontist is removing her braces. In exchange, she'll get a retainer. So, in case you aren't keeping track or are just very bad at math, that makes three expensive items she could potentially lose: the clarinet, the glasses, and the retainer. If you add all three together, I think you could get a decent used car. Or at least a really nice moped.
I remember being in junior high and from time to time some hapless kid would accidentally throw out his retainer with his lunch tray. I recall seeing a boy digging through the garbage in the lunch room, desperately looking for the apparatus (and probably thinking, "My mom is going to kill me!")
My daughter has a terrible track record with losing stuff, so I have reason to be concerned about such things. I don't think I've ever once visited her school without finding something of hers in the lost and found. Every time I buy her a new jacket or sweater, part of me wonders if I should just drive over to the school and deposit it directly in the lost and found. Cut out the middle man, as it were.
Now . . . who would like to invite a sweet fifth grader to their home to practice the clarinet?