Saturday, February 07, 2015

The quest for the elusive CCA

I've been waiting a long time to write this post about Evan and his quest for a CCA and it's taken such a long time because we've had to apply for the CCAs and wait for the results to be released.

Most schools don't have CCAs for P1s and P2s. Evan's school, however, is one of those that do allow the younger kids to do CCAs if they wanted to try stuff out.

When I was in primary school, I went through a gamut of CCAs or ECAs as it was known then. I dabbled in most of it except Red Cross and gymnastics (not for the want of trying but because my mom thought I might crack my head at gym). So between Primary 3 to Primary 6, I ended up trying out basketball, badminton, track and field, swimming, the school angklung ensemble (where my musical instrument was 2 halves of a coconut) and library. I didn't particularly excel in any of them at that point but I had a lot of fun trying them out and aching in places I didn't know could ache till the following week.

But the point was I figured out from all of it that I was crap at basketball, would involuntarily burst out giggling when I had to rally too long for badminton, had absolutely no sense of rhythm and hated running (famous last words) because it gave me a stitch.

Unfortunately, this doesn't seem how CCAs are run these days.

Evan was in tennis last year and it was an eye opening experience to find out that the kids in his tennis group trained outside as well. My naive mind wondered why they were doing so if school was already providing the training. The answer was that school training was insufficient if you wanted to be on the school team.

Anyway, we have no ambitions for Evan to be on the school tennis team. He picked up tennis in kindy, he liked it and had fun. It taught him hand-eye coordination that I never really had so we let him keep playing.

FDA's daily recommended dosage of Vitamin D.

This year, when the CCAs had their open house, he said he didn't mind tennis but was very interested in trying sailing. Despite the paranoid, crazy Mommy fears that ran in my head, "What if he gets hit by a boom and falls unconscious in the water?" "What if a rogue wave takes him out?", I told him Packrat and I would talk about it (distance was an issue) before putting him down for it. Eventually we let him. He was interested, it would teach him things that we couldn't teach him on a regular day and he would be out in the sun. But most importantly, because he wanted to do it.

He also asked us to put down chess. The boy likes playing chess and that's where my greatest failure as a mother lies. I. DO. NOT. KNOW. HOW. TO. PLAY. CHESS. and I have no inclination to learn it to play with him. The solution he came up with, join the chess club.

There we were, his choices with tennis as the default 3rd because I explained to him that between sailing and tennis, tennis was easier for him to do classes outside of school so we would try out sailing.

Unfortunately, he did not get any of his choices because everything was over-subscribed. Even the supposedly non-sport, chess. And every where I turned and asked, I was told that if he had done some classes outside, chess, tennis or sailing, he would have been guaranteed entry into the CCA of his choice.

Leading to the question then, why would I want him to do it at school if we could do it on our own? And while I understood the importance and need for the kids to win awards and medals for the school, shouldn't there also be the understanding that some kids really want to try out these things for the heck of it? For the child, it is hardly ever about joining canoeing and rowing so that they might get picked up by an Ivy league school in need of scullers.  For the kid, it's about trying new things, deciding if he likes it or not and having fun figuring that out.

Then, try explaining to a child who had decided he wanted to pick up sailing because he thought it would one day allow him to captain cruise ships that he couldn't because there weren't enough spots and the spots that were there ended up being given to kids who had had prior training. When I told him that he could try again next year, he sobbed about how he would be too old and there would always be kids that would have more training than he did.

Now, there's a lesson in life for him.

I was ready for him to have more free time this year, with no CCA commitments and no picking him up from school in the evenings. In fact, that sounded quite appealing. More time for him to play with the neighbours. Less driving around for me.

For good or for bad, Evan likes doing things a certain way. Even though they were told that CCAs weren't compulsory, he saw that all his friends had a CCA and didn't want to be left out. So, we looked at what was left. Chinese Culture Club and Rugby, realistically. No golf (too costly), No strings (no musical talent), no dance (But I'm not Jordan, Mommy!). From that list of two, Chinese Culture Club got axed almost immediately ("You subject me to Chinese tuition and you want me to do this?" his eyes silently accused).

So, we were left with rugby which we were in two minds over. On the one hand, I grew up with rugby player brothers and thinking all boys ought to play rugby. On the other hand, I grew up with front row seats to not just the nose bleeds but dislocated shoulders, knees, busted noses, broken heads and teeth. Evan, himself, was convinced that he would get a nose bleed from playing the sport.

But he really wanted a CCA and this was all that I could conjure out of my hat. So he agreed to try it after Packrat likened it to playing catching with a ball. It also helped that he had some class friends with him, equally lost.

So finally here we are, after what feels like a very complicated process to get in some play, committed to being at school early Saturday morning for this year at least. If he comes away from the year with a bit more ball sense, the Saturday morning wake ups which make me want to take a nap right about now, will be worth it.

When I thought about the twins going to school and the stresses we might have to face, trying to get Evan into a CCA that he was interested in trying, never, ever crossed my mind. Such first world problems.


  1. WHAT?! Unbelievable! This is news to me! The kids pretty get to choose whatever CCA they want and there's no selection.

  2. I'm sure it isn't at every school. Just the reality of the situation for us. Never mind, Evan must learn that no matter how much he wants something, he doesn't necessarily get it!