9.24.2010

Autumn

As a Canadian, it is almost illegal to complain about summer, but for a full-on Semitic summer-lover, I had a really miserable time these past few months. All of the liberating, easy things about the summer, from being barefoot and bare-shouldered to enjoying fresh produce and curly hair, were simply random punctuation marks in an otherwise unbearable, run-on summer. It was hot, dude. Hot. Swealtering, stuffy, smouldering, smelly hot. I hate complaining about the summer, traditionally my favourite time of the year, but this summer was tough.

My air conditioning and asthma medication were constantly being used, and there seemed to be no relief from the heat or for my health. I worried about the kids being out too much because the sun was so strong and the air so thick. We barely ate our meals outside, in contrast to last summer when we barely ate our meals inside, because it was just too. bloody. hot. I barely even cooked anyway, because there was no way I was turning on the oven, and our bbq bit the dust at the beginning of the season, not to be replaced until the very end (gotta love those end of season sales). It was really disappointing.

And now it’s autumn. Officially autumn, and I have never been so happy to see it in. I am ready, so ready, for socks and sweaters and blankets on the bed. I’m ready for apples and root vegetables and soup and tea. I’m ready for changing leaves and changing clocks. I’m ready for cool evenings and canning food. I’m ready for closed doors and opened bronchial tubes. I’m ready for shorter days and longer coats. I’m ready for cozy nights snuggled with my husband and cozy mornings snuggled with my girls.


I never thought I’d be glad to see summer end, but this year? I’m ready.

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9.15.2010

Registering for Programs in the City of Toronto - An Exercise in Frustration and Futility*

I was prepped: client numbers and course selection numbers at the ready, website up, phone number already on speed dial on my desk phone and my BlackBerry.

I watched the clock tick down the moments. My heart was racing with anticipation of ‘the catch’ – this was going to be my lucky day, and like a huntress, I was ready…

GO!

Dial, type, dial, and…. victory! a busy signal!

A website that wouldn’t load.

Another busy signal.

Lather, rinse, repeat for 25 minutes.

Finally… yes! The website loads and my chance is at hand! I WILL ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO REGISTER MY CHILDREN FOR A PARKS AND REC PROGRAM!

But now that the website has loaded, a dilemma – this might be my only shot. What do I choose? Do I try to get swimming lessons, for which I need one session but two spots? Or skating, which poses the same challenge? Hmm… ignoring the implications this might have on my younger daughter’s self esteem in the future, I choose Ballet for my older daughter.
Sorry, younger daughter, but I gotta go with the sure(est) thing. Ballet for the five year old, 6:30pm Mondays (it’ll be a race to get there, but I can do it!), punch in the numbers and success! Right?

Wrong.

Class is full.

I punch in the numbers for the swimming class. Full.

I punch in the numbers for the skating lessons. Full.

I adjust the number by one digit for fun. Full, and I don’t even know what it is.

I try a different tactic, and search by available classes in my area. What I find is depressing.

There are no vacancies in any of the classes I am interested in putting my children into (or even variations on those classes) in the 6 – 8:30pm time frames or the Saturday/Sunday classes that I would be able to take my kids to.

However, if I wanted my 5 year old to take Ballet Tuesday at 2pm, I could get into that. If I wanted swimming for both my kids at 4:30pm, we could get into that. There are a bunch of spots open for skating at 6:15pm, but they are at rinks so far from my home that we would never be able to make it
there in time. I keep scrolling, and keep coming up empty-handed.

I stop looking, and resign myself to the fact that, once again, I will have to enroll my kids in private swimming/skating/ballet lessons, and pay roughly ten times the rate of the city-run programs if they are to go at all. And the likelihood will be that availability and budget constraints will keep us from all three anyway. Maybe they’ll get swimming lessons.

I know that I am not the only user of the system that finds it frustrating, but my experiences have led me to believe that the process is particularly biased against working mothers. We have the same rights to the programs as anyone else in our district, yet the schedule constraints are greater and the options more limited with no way to gain priority to those limited spaces. And of course there isn’t - there could be no democratically legitimate way to save evening spots for those that truly could not utilize daytime spots. And why should we get them anyway? I couldn’t say that it would be wrong for a stay-at-home mom to choose an evening class over a day class so that she could leave her younger child with her husband instead of having to schlep her with to gymnastics. That’s legit, even if it means that somebody’s want of convenience trumps my need.

I already know that my kids hate swimming lessons, but now, if I can even find a spot somewhere private, I’ll be able to watch them refuse to get into the water for $250 each, instead of $39. And skating? Knowing how to skate is a Canadian child’s birthright, for pete’s sake. I was hoping they’d get some professional lessons before I take my little ankleburners out on my own, but I guess not.

And, idiot that I am, I’ll probably try again in December. But I think I’ll go oldschool next time and freeze my ass off lining up for 6 hours, Fun Guide in hand, to register in person, like our mothers did. And while I’m at it, I will try to convince somebody to change the name of the session catalogue, because there is nothing, and I mean nothing , even a little bit fun about this process.

*If you are a working mother. If not, enjoy your 2pm ballet class ignore this post.


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