Tennis lessons

Well-off Americans have, for at least the last 20 or 30 years, been rather diligent about enrolling their children in "enrichment activities" of various sorts. I have always found this a bit distasteful, because it seems to be about parents showing off their expendable income, and thereby their status, plus it is a preemptive attempt to give one's child a competition edge for college. If little Johnny or Suzy ends up being great at water polo, they will get a scholarship to a good college or admitted to a great college, even if their academics are less than stellar. The pressure therefore is manifold in the United States to be a "good parent" by signing one's child up for afterschool learning--either of a sport or of a skill like chess or music or art.

In Iceland, either because it is less expensive or because the pressure to get into college is not so great, these afterschool activities, which all my cousins' kids are involved in, just seem like a normal healthy part of growing up, developing social skills and physical skills and having fun. 

As I am contemplating signing up Palmer, who is already in soccer, for chess, tennis, and possibly piano, I am making the inevitable comparison with my own childhood. I was never, ever one of the richy-rich kids, who had a pony and vacationed in Hawaii and was picked up from school in a Mercedes and a BMW.  I was not one of the kids who was told from the age of 5 that I would be going to college. I was not enrolled in enrichment activity after enrichment activity. These signs of status were not afforded to me as a kid. Even still, a graduate student at UC Berkeley who used to work at the Smithsonian, I think of myself as utterly average and middle class. 

One fall I was the cheerleader for my brother's pee wee football league. That's it. That's the only afterschool program I could put on my college applications, had it lead to me being on the cheerleading squad in highschool. Instead, I never even tried out for it. 

Palmer I guess will have a different story to tell about his childhood. 


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