Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Less is less

Scouts, soccer, baseball, gymnastics, swimming, track, football, cheerleading, clubs.  It seems like a lot of kids are doing a lot of those things.  Parents are running to get their kids to activity after activity, day after day.  Chez Wells, though, after having been in it for almost a year, Dallas is done with martial arts.  He learned a lot and earned a few new belts, but his heart was never truly in it.

I had begun to notice that getting Dallas to tae kwon do was no easy task.  We had to get in the car as soon as he got off the bus, have a snack en route, get to the studio, change into uniform, and start class.  That's a lot for a Kindergarten kid to do right after school.  He enjoyed his class and liked his teacher, but he wasn't really into the whole thing.  He spent most of his time making faces at himself in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors.  I knew he wouldn't be ready for the next higher level of class which involved more memorization, a longer class period, and more difficult practices.  He would end up being a distraction to the teacher and the rest of the kids in class.

T and I decided that Dallas could stop the martial arts class.  I felt guilty at first because I wondered if we were teaching him that it was okay to quit something out of boredom.  Would this decision affect how he lived his life?  Would he change his major in college twelve times because we allowed him to quit tae kwon do?   Then I realized that I was a little nuts, and I reined it in.

Part of my guilt stems from the fact that it's almost de rigueur for kids to do all the things: music lessons, sports, drama classes, academic teams.  I worried that Dallas wasn't going to have An Interest.  Don't all kids need An Interest to feel successful and confident?  What would His Interest be?  I was afraid I was ruining his life.  And as parents, we're constantly inundated with what our kids should or shouldn't be doing, mostly opinions without many facts behind them.   But how are we supposed to know which way to go or what works for our own children?

All at once, I was hit with the proverbial bolt of lightning: the kid is six years old.  He's six.  He doesn't need An Interest.  He couldn't choose An Interest right now if his life depended on it, because, SIX. And I'm not even saying that no six-year old knows what he/she likes to do, but I know that Dallas needs some time to develop his interests.  Having lots of after-school activities works for a lot of kids and their families.  Lottie, for instance, would be thrilled to do something different every day of the week: that's just who she is.  But Dal, he's more of an old soul who likes to ease into things before he fully commits.  His personality is essentially different than mine, so sometimes I find it problematic to parent him.   I'm learning, though.  I'm learning to give him some time and space to be who he is and who he needs to be.

When T and I told Dal he could be done with tae kwon do if he wanted to, he thought about it for a while before responding.  (Shocking.)  He eventually said he was glad he was going to be done with the Monday/Wednesday rigmarole; he said all he wanted to do when he came home from school on Mondays was read the new library book that he had gotten at school that day.  He may not know everything just yet, but he knows what he likes.  I'm just glad I was finally able to give up my own worry in order to lessen his.  It doesn't matter what everyone else is doing - jump off a bridge, anyone? -as long as we're happy with the result.