Monday, January 13, 2014

parents: the wind beneath a successful child's wings?

One of the fine lines that we find ourselves toeing more and more in parenting is when and how to help our children, and when to let them spread their little wings and fly.

We want for them to be successful in their activities, but we don't want to do their activities for them.  Well, except math because you know how I love third grade math. But in other events such as Scouting, we tell them that they are becoming more responsible and they need to get engaged and find out what needs to be done if they want to participate. This approach has been great for us, until we get totally eclipsed by other parents whose children have earned several patches and we've barely finished one and our children look at us with sadness in their eyes. "Why Mom and Dad? Why do they have so many patches when we have so little? Why don't you do anything to help us?"  

Well, because we have enough other things that we MUST do to keep our heads above water and fulfilling all the requirements so you can get an Inventor patch in Scouts is not on the list this month.

(Seems logical at the time, so why do I feel guilt over it?  Why?!)

When I watch the athletes who are participating in the upcoming Olympics, I am amazed at their physical abilities; but I am equally amazed at the stamina of the parents who were undoubtedly driving their child athletes mentally and physically (literally for those 5 AM practices) to train.  Just today, my co-worker was telling me that tonight he will be taking his 14-year old son to basketball practice at 9 PM.  When he told me this, I told him it's too bad my children will never play basketball because at 9 PM, I'm in my pajamas and preparing for slumber.  Making the conscious decision to be in a high school gymnasium when I could be on my way to bed is painfully unfathomable.

There are several kids in our school and neighborhood who play travel soccer and we know that the weekends for these families are consumed with traveling to different matches, up and down the eastern seaboard. Unless our children show an exceptional, sustained talent, and demonstrate extreme enthusiasm .... I think it's safe to say, we'll never play travel soccer.  Or any travel sport for that matter because weekends at home are far too critical for our wellbeing.

That's not to say we don't have our children in sports. At one time or another, they've been in swimming, diving, karate, ballet, soccer, lacrosse and gymnastics.  But not once have we finished up a session with children who are SO EXCITED to sign up again. Did the olympic athletes behave this way when they were kids?  Did their parents continue to push them to keep it up?

Usually by two weeks in to an eight week session, right after I purchase the uniforms, I'm dragging them out the door as they moan they don't want to go anymore. As of today, all four children really want to take up Irish Dancing after seeing a clip on YouTube.  I can just imagine how adorable they'd be and the sight of my four young children in coordinated outfits, tapping away to a Celtic Fiddler makes me smile!  But, if the past is a key to the future, I think I'd rather save my money and spare myself the heartache each week listening to a symphony of, "But we don't like Irish Dancing!"  and I'm telling them through clenched teeth that they'd better get their tap shoes on before I tap them.

When we recently visited the National Symphonic Orchestra for a Christmas concert, I was extremely impressed by the ability of the musicians. But once again, I couldn't stop thinking of their parents, who were likely encouraging - cajoling - threatening - or downright bribing them to practice their piano, violin or tuba when they were young.


After a lot of pleading by our daughter, we signed Carolyn up for violin in early November.  I'll admit, I was fantasizing that my daughter would be a violin prodigy considering we listen to classical music at our home all. the. time and she didn't put the violin down once for the first week she had it. I'd told her instructor that I was planning to sign up for classes with her, so we could practice at home together. But I never had the opportunity to do that because I was traveling so much and by the end of November, she'd had her fill of playing.

So Elizabeth stepped in and took up her sister's $35.00 weekly lessons for which we'd pre-paid for two months.  We didn't think the teacher would even notice, but he asked during the first lesson, "I thought you were taller....?"


I then held the dream that maybe Elizabeth would be our musical prodigy! But she too burned out less than a month in. Charlie returned the violin to the music store today while I took the girls out to sell Girl Scout cookies around our neighborhood.  The girls told me that they wanted to sell 500 boxes EACH.  But after an hour and 40 boxes sold, they'd decided they'd had enough. When I asked if they wanted to go out again after dinner, they told me, "No. It's not important how many we sell it's whether or not we have fun doing it and we've had enough fun for today. "

I love that logic.

So. If you have a hankering for some Thin Mints, Samoas or Do-Si-Dos, we've got 'em!

Here's more detail about what's available: Meet the Cookies.


If you're interested, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail at  Cookies are $4.00 USD a box and they'll be delivered to us by mid-February. We're more than happy to ship!

Maybe if we're lucky, we'll get a participatory patch and some of the temporary guilt for not being a more encouraging and involved mother in extracurricular activities will be quelled.