Who knew getting your kids into in-demand extracurricular activities would be nearly as competitive as race morning?

Anticipation at the start of a race

There are things that I didn’t know would become part of my life when I became a parent. One of those things is how competitive it can be to register your kids into extracurricular programs.

Some of these programs are so in demand and fill up so fast that it seems impossible to get your child a spot. What do the kids of laid-back, non-competitive parents do? I’m guessing they get into the activities that are slower to fill up – like maybe math camp or running camp? (Maybe these are not bad options…)

Last Saturday’s date had been marked in my calendar for a month. It was the deadline to register my son for ball-hockey in the spring. He really wanted to do it. I’d visited the website and gotten as far as I could with setting him up with a username and password, but the registration was to be locked until 8 a.m. on Saturday morning.

I knew I was unavailable at precisely that time, so I enlisted my husband to do the registering. The problem is, I didn’t have the heart to tell him how obsessive you have to be to even have a chance of getting in. I said “register at 8 a.m. sharp” and left it at that.

What I should have said: “Have at least two computers going with the registration page open twice on each, just in case of it freezes or has weird glitch. Start at 7:50 a.m. with lots of coffee and adrenaline. Have everything ready to go at 7:58 a.m. and start repeatedly pushing the ‘refresh’ button on all four screens simultaneously. You win bonus points if you also call in. Tip: Sometimes you have to keep hanging up and dialing again. Keep doing this from 7:58 a.m. to 8:03 a.m. By 8:03 it’s all over.

How do you communicate all of that without sounding like a crazy person?

As I was driving that morning I saw my phone ring at 8:07.

“I didn’t get in,” he said. “Did you register at 8?” I asked. “Pretty much,” he said. How I love to be up against competitors like that. The poor guy didn’t stand a chance.

We broke the news to our son, which went over OK. Now the problem is mine. Either find a program which he likes, is convenient to get to and isn’t too expensive, or entertain him myself in those time blocks.

I think I’m back to that running camp idea. He actually does like running (OK, when it suits him). I think I can gently encourage it. He did want me to register him for the Ride for Heart 5K Run in June, so we have a goal to train for. And all joking aside, we have found a very excellent track club for kids which has great coaches and which he has enjoyed in the past.

The question now will be: can we make it fit our schedules? Time to get to work on Plan B…


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