Monday, January 28, 2008

Flying Solo

J takes music lessons on the weekend and that is the only activity that I have been able to sign her up for given my schedule. There is a ton of learning and recreational opportunities for kids - storytelling, crafts, dance, drama and sports to name a few. The problem is not the lack of options but when it the classes meet. A 3:00 p.m on Tuesday does not work for me.

The system seems to penalize single parents without an extended support network who are trying their best to keep their head above the water. Working full time and enriching your child's life outside school seems to an impossible proposition unless you have a partner or a whole bunch of family who are glad to pitch in. This would mean either being married or living very close to your family. It is surprising given the statistics

As of 2000 an estimated 13.5 million single parents had custody of 21.7 million children under 21 years of age whose other parent lived somewhere else.

Given the numbers it would seem that there would be a market for services this demographic needs. Like a pickup from school to an activity and drop off at home. There are baby sitters and nannies who would do this but I am looking for something more organized - almost like a service provider whose goal is to eliminate the many challenges of trying to be the hydra headed multi-taker that a single parent must become in order to make up for the support network formed by spouse and readily available family. Better still would be to have activities organized taking a full day work schedule and a single parent into consideration.

Instead, the art workshop will end the day at 4:00 p.m and the hapless single parent has to scuttle their work schedule to reach there on time. The county will organize summer school five days a week from 8:00 a.m to 2:30 p.m. which works great for stay at home moms but not for someone like me. Then there are academic tomes written about dysfunctional families and children headed by a single parent (frequently a mother). It seems like most of them have a choice of being super-human and face the overwhelming odds and swim against the tide or give up in defeat. We single parents are not of superhuman extraction.

When you add the many challenges of finding gainful employment that pays the medical bills the problems are compounded manifold. Sometimes, I have to wonder if even the Western society is really giving single parents and their children a fair chance. Maybe the "normal" cross sections of society every where in the world create disincentives for those among us who don't fit the "normal" bill. The way the discrimination works may be in your face (as I have experienced in India) or subtle and all encompassing as in this country.

2 comments:

Priyamvada_K said...

HC,
Some cities have van services designated to pick up kids and drop them off at activities. Check with working moms who put kids in multiple activities. You can also probably carpool with another parent with a child in the same class.

Priya.

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