Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A fine balance

It is always a fine balance between wanting to help your child achieve their dreams and knowing when to back off and let go. Yesterday I did both.

Grace has been attending a basketball camp every morning this week. She has worked with this coach in the past. He has previous experience in the NBA, has coached college level basketball and now works teaching children. I say teaching because this is not a camp where the focus is on competitive games. She is not on a team and rarely plays games at this camp. This is about skill building with a hefty dose of self-esteem building thrown in for extra measure. She has a goal of playing on a high school team. In order to achieve this, she must learn, develop, and mature.

Yesterday she woke up to stiff muscles, sore joints and a weary spirit. She really did not want to go. I reminded her of her goal. I told her my brother, who played college basketball, used to complain the same way. When his body would give out, he would soak in my parent’s jacuzzi tub melting away the pain. I coaxed her into the car and when we arrived at the high school where the camp is located she was ready and eager for another day of learning. Last night, she was beyond consolable. She was in pain. Motrin pain. She soaked in our non-jacuzzi tub and I treated her to a salon style shampoo and conditioner. My plan was some quiet reading in my bed in front of the air conditioner and a early bedtime.

Lilah had a different experience yesterday. She has been studying piano off and on since she was four years old. She chose piano because when I asked her if she wanted to skate like Grace, she scoffed at me and said what she really wanted to do was play piano. I think she intentionally picked something as far from Grace’s interests as possible. She played for awhile, practicing here and there and picking up a fair amount. Her teacher has the patience of a saint and would wait out the ebbs and flows in her practicing and desire to learn. For awhile she stopped altogether, returning with a new vigor in her playing. Little did we know that as her sister was waiting for Lilah, playing her game boy or doing her homework, she was internalizing the lesson. At home on her piano, she would successfully keep up with Lilah, through hard work and dedication, she began to teach herself the piano. It was time for Grace to have lessons also. Now we are back to the point where Lilah is reluctant to continue. She would like a break, time to pursue her other interests and talents. I am going to honor this request. Unlike Grace, whom I pushed to attend camp today, I am going to let Lilah walk away from piano, and give my support to her other interests of cooking and art, where her passions lie.

Knowing what is best for each child is not easy. It comes down to listening to the voice deep within. We can’t tell where the path will lead our children. Will they make the sports team? Will they regret walking away from an instrument? Only time will tell. But I want my child to enjoy the journey and find pleasure while going the distance.


Sarah said...

This is one that I'm just starting to watch myself on as my kids get older. It was very easy to honor my little one's desire to take a break from gymnastics after one session had ended and before the next began. It was not so easy when my other daughter wanted a break in the middle of a paid for session - but that was still easier than forcing her to go (which would have resulted in some public demonstrations as to exactly how *much* she didn't want to go.

Thank you for this post.

Jessica said...

My experience has been that as your children mature, they can communicate better about their goals. I believe in exposing them to many things, but when one class can run $500, we have to be choosy, saving some things for our town recreation department and investing money in their passions. Of course they are only 9 and 7 and their passions may change and evolve the balance is in developing a sense of commitment along with the opportunity to explore. Not easy!

Theresa said...

Jessica, you have actually helped me to see the extracurricular activities in a new light. I could easily go broke and be overwhelmed by activities, but since your posts, I am really trying to work with the girls to discover their dreams and goals and passions, which right now is fashion design for both. They have taken art classes at an art school in the past, so we will keep with that as well as get some fashion design books to look through. Thanks for your ideas and insight!

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