First of all, might I say a big THANK YOU for all of the advice and feedback you gave me over our childcare issues, and the skateboarding thing.  It was tremendously helpful and really did give me a lot of clarity. The boys have finished out their week in skate camp, but I’ve decided that we are going to hold off on skating as a hobby for now.  I know, I know.  Many of you opined about how kids should be able to choose their own passions and in theory I agree.  But at the same time, I am dealing with 4 and 6-year-olds here.  Of course I am going to have some sway in what they do.  I am responsible for signing them up, and driving, and generally making decisions for their life, so I don’t think it’s micromanaging at this point to steer them in another direction.   Let’s be honest . . . most kids at this age are involved in whatever their parents choose for them.  (I’m talking to you, DANCE MOMS).  I mean, if I let Jafta “follow his passions” his day would involve 5-6 hours of playing angry birds, followed by 5-6 hours of watching television, with breaks for eating candy.  So.  I’m gonna be steering this ship. It is hard, because it’s clear there is some natural talent, and also because they just look SO! CUTE!  in their skateboard gear and all.  But I’m just not comfortable with the vibe at the skate park, and I really don’t think what I’m seeing is unique to this particular skate park.  Skating has always had a culture of questioning authority, of being bad-ass, of breaking the rules . . . etc, etc.  All the things that I’m sure attracted me to it when I was young, and probably things that will be attractive to them when they are at an age when kids naturally do the rebellion thing.  But I don’t really want to set them up for that prematurely.  No need to hasten the Season of Eye-Rolling And Profuse Profanity. Something happened yesterday that sort of sealed the deal for me.  I took the boys to class at the usual time but their teacher was a substitute, and he looked all of 14 years old.  He barely spoke to the kids, and seemed pretty content to just skate around the park doing tricks while the kids in the class watched him or roamed aimlessly around the park.  I watched for 30 minutes and there was no interaction between the “teacher” and the students.  He even started skating in a different section with some other kids his age.  I was a bit annoyed, especially since the class was a little spendy, so I called the skate clinic’s phone number and the guy who answered sounded like he was either just waking up or stoned, or maybe both.  I told him what was going on and said I was uncomfortable with the age and approach of the teacher, and he agreed that the teacher was new but said he would just call the kid on the phone and tell him what to do.   And when I picked the boys up, again they were kind of wandering around the park while this teacher kid was skating around.  It doesn’t really instill confidence when the people who are supposed to be in authority are acting like children.  Not to mention, there were at least 10 kids riding around with no helmet despite the clearly posted signs about wearing helmets, and my brain was just about ready to explode. Anarchy, man.  It’s all fun and games until you’re 36 and realize that it actually isn’t really a sustainable model at all.  So, we’re moving on from the skate park.   My kids are awesome and respectful kids but they are also little sponges (especially around older boys) and I’d rather them be in an environment where respect and rules are a part of the group norms. I loved the idea of karate, and I think we might head in that direction.  I asked the boys about it today and they seemed very excited.  I think it’s an activity where respect for adults and personal discipline are really emphasized, and I like that.  My mom (believe it or not) was an upper-level black belt in Tae Kwon Do and ran a karate club when I was a little girl, so I was around it all the time.  It’s really hard to explain the difference in attitudes towards adults that I’ve observed in Tae Kwon Do vs. at the skate park.   They will also be playing basketball in the fall.  And yeah, I was all ready to be team band until so many of you enlightenment me about the band kids and their sordid ways. Who knew? (I’m still team choir and grieving the fact at least half of my children appear to be completely tone-deaf.) On the childcare front, I was again really appreciative of the feedback and think there was a lot of wisdom in the comments that I was looking for too much versatility in one person.  We’ve decided to put the younger kids in 3 days of preschool.  It’s a great solution for us, and I think it will be good for the kids, too.  We found a montessori school that takes two-year-olds, and it’s a very diverse school right down the street from us.  I like that with a preschool setting, I don’t have to worry about how someone is going to manage all of my kids, because they will be split up and in an environment that is equipped for handling large groups of small children. Their school gets out at the same time that Jafta does, so I can have three half days to work alone at home, which will be a welcome change from sitting on my bed with the sound machine on full volume trying to drown out the sound of them fighting in the backyard on the sitter’s watch. Yes, this will be good. I’m also going to try to leverage the studio apartment in exchange for someone to do some basic housekeeping for us, and I think it will be helpful to find someone who is looking for that kind of work, as opposed to hiring someone as a sitter who is less-than-thrilled about those aspects of the job.   I’ve put some feelers out and thus far received some interesting responses.  One candidate told me should could pass a drug test if I let her know in advance.  Another told me that she promised she would not steal from me.  And yet another seemed by her profile picture to be offering some more intimate services that we really aren’t looking for at this juncture. Or ever. Oh boy. Now, trusty blog commenters, since you’ve helped me work through these important issues, maybe you can extend this great advice to all of the strangers on the internet who are getting here by googling a certain search term: google search on RATM See the #2 in the circle next to the phrase of awful that I won’t be typing?  That’s to let me know I’m winning.  Apparently I’m the #2 source on google for that sentence.  Awesome.