Monday, June 01, 2009

"You see, you can't interfere with destiny. That's why it's destiny."*

NOTE ADDED: I've discussed perseverance here before. The recap activities are those that we have sampled all year. Next year I want her to focus more on one or two. Again, not looking for an Olympic star so much as keeping her mind busy/happy doing something she likes. Which is all of it. She is happiest when busy either in an activity or digging-for-worms/picking-up-stones. Boredom is her nemesis.

I'm really not trying to sound self righteous when I say that my daughter is amazing. She is.

The middle child, whom on more then one occasion I have dubbed as being the true testament of my faith, is a constant force to be reckoned with always testing my limits yet always surprising me with her talents. Let's start referring her to as "gifted" from here on. Ahem.

When she's not using her God given gift of testing my authority she's really good at everything else.

After three intro-to-ice-skating lessons this winter her teacher pulled me aside, "She's a natural. It has been a while since I have seen someone pick up ice skating this fast. Next week she will be in that class." She pointed to the group of girls twice her size twirling around the ice with a year's worth of lessons tucked into their skating skirts.

I had a similar conversation with Mrs. Chantal her gymnastics teacher which is recommending that Lola try out for the pre-team next year. And her ballet teacher wants her not only enrolled in ballet, but tap as well. After six months of private swim lessons Lola started working on her butterfly stroke swimming the length of the pool as naturally as Ariel. Last summer, at horse back riding camp, the owner said I should consider enrolling her for weekly lessons. And.... she just turned five.


She's incredibly lucky to be born into a family that is able to have her taste a smorgasbord of activities. I often wonder where I would be in life right now if I was given the same opportunities. At her age I was watching my parents pack their belongings and move across an ocean... horseback riding lessons for me was far from their minds.

Which brings me to my problem of having an amazingly "gifted" child that naturally excels in most everything she tries.

The world is her stage. But what is her act?

She wants it all. The swimming. The pre-team gymnastics twice a week. The ballet. The tap. The horse back riding. The ice skating. And Jay is convincing her to take up Karate alongside him as well which I'm pretty sure she would kick butt in. On top of my required religion classes and Kumon that leaves me needing to magically convince the rest of the civilized world to create three more days to the seven-day-week calendar they are already comfortable with just to fit in all of her activities.

Heh.

And there is no compromising with the next uber confident and strong willed Tracy Flick or Elle Woods who might become the next Mary Lou Retton or Nancy Kerrigan because right now my sweet dramatic Lola wants it all and even when asked to prioritize her favorites she says, "I like them all the same. When can I get a pony to ride to school?" Okay, she didn't really ask for a pony. Yet. I'm kind of hoping she falls down at horseback riding camp next week to rule that potential question out.

Obviously I don't want to "burn" her out and overwhelm her so I will have to grow a back bone and schedule no more then two activities on top of my required ones. But what if I choose the wrong ones? I read a parenting book sometime ago that mentioned people at the top of their professions/sports spent 60% of their lives completely involved in that medium from an early age. She's been having "fun" in all her activities but I do want her to focus more intently on just one. Which means that Fifi, the toddler, is well on her way to becoming an entomologist." I'm not expecting Lola to become an Olympic star I just can't imagine staying on top of car pools/schedules/my own sanity, I might just burn out.

Sports/activities? Gifted motivated children? What age do people really start focusing on raw talent? This is all very new to me. I need your help. What do you think?

*Quote from Election, the movie.

***

Clevelanders! Check this out. Giving away incredible seats to see Mary Poppins at the State Theater! Here.

41classy comments:

thethirddegree said...

I was one of those kids, too, and my parents let me be really busy until I burned myself out. I decided I didn't like gymnastics as much as dance so I left one over the other. I think that Lola will eventually do the same thing. If you can keep yourself sane, let her dabble in a million zillion things and then when she's ready, she'll start whining that she doesn't like something, or it's too hard, or what not and then you'll know what to cut out. Just my non-Mom advice!

Either way, I think it's so super cool that you're willing to LET her try all these things! I hope one day to be the Mama that you are!

Loukia said...

Hmmm... tough one. I can't believe she is only 5! She is uber talented, mama! She really does't have a favourite? Do you see her getting more excited to go to ballet or to gymnastics or to skating? If she truly loves skating, and she is that good, keep her in it - she COULD be in the Olympics, you know! Or maybe she can do skating in the winter and ballet the rest of the year? Oh man, tough decision you have to make! I'm just excited for next summer when my oldest boy turns 4 so I can put him in soccer. I can't wait to see him in his soccer jersey! :)
When I was younger, I did ballet, jazz, guitar lessons, tennis camp in the summer, art school, skiing... sadly, I'm not great at any of those things now!

Kristin said...

I am a gifted teacher in the Cleveland area :), and I would recommend that any talent Lola has should be nurtured. She may have an athletic gift, and will naturally gravitate towards the things that she is best at and has the most interest in.
Kids who have the most experiences in life will be more likely to find the one thing that they most identify with. So if there are opportunities that you are able to provide, offer them to her! A gifted child will have no trouble telling you what he or she wants to continue with and telling you when he or she is burned out from doing something. I really think the key is opportunity, opportunity, opportunity! What if Shawn Johnson's mom had said no! The world would be short one Olympic gold medalist AND a Dancing With the Stars winner! Tragic! :)

Kelley said...

She really needs to decide babe. Set some firm boundaries of what you are able to do and then ultimately the decision is hers.

That is what I did with my girls. I also gave them the option to change their minds if after a specified amount of time they decided they made the wrong choice.

But I was a mean mummy, I only allowed one activity.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Wow, you're in a tough situation. Lola is very talented and very fortunate to have parents who can afford to give her all these opportunities.

Just keep one thing in mind: at some point, all the activities of Lola's might possibly cut into time you have to spend with Jay, Fifi, and OhDaddy.

I can't even count the number of times I've told my kids, "Sometimes being a family means giving up something we want to support one another. And sometimes it means that everyone else supports us while we chase our dream. But we all have to take turns."

So, I'd say, tell Lola that she can pick only ONE activity at a time and that she can't quit until the session is over. Then she can pick to stay with it or pick to try something new. And YES of course it will be a tough choice for her but I have a feeling, she says she likes everything the same because deep down she is hoping that you will allow her to do it all.

And, don't forget to give her time to just be a kid - ride her bike, play at a friend's house, run in the sprinkler, etc. Those are really the BEST childhood memories, right?

Chiloe said...

It's going to be hard to decide ... Emma plays the violin + music school. She wants to take dance classes + theatre classes + horse riding lessons. The only problem is we have 3 kids + days of only 24 hours ... so we only do 2 activities.

The most difficult part is to not feel like you waste her talents but some international champions did start their sport when they were only 10 or 11 yo after doing other sports. If they are talented , they will make up for the years they pratice another sport. I guess when she will be older, she could decide which sports she prefers the most because she would have been lucky to have tried so many ;-)

Flea said...

Ya got me. We're playing this by ear too.

We always limit our kids to one extracurricular activity, outside of academic and church. Three kids get expensive otherwise, as well as cause mommy burn out. But letting her spend a semester in any given thing at a time is probably good. That's probably long enough for you to see whether or not she really loves it, not just whether or not she's good at it.

Marinka said...

She is amazing and she is lucky.

I'm one of those moms who thinks that scheduled kids are happy kids. I think it's so important for children to be involved in sports, not just for physical development but for self esteem.

That being said, I think we've all read how hard gymnastic and dance is on girls' bodies and I'll even go further and say that when taken to a certain degree, it is destructive.

From all the sports that you've mentioned, I would encourage swimming the most.

But of course, you're right about destiny. She will pursue what she loves the most. I've been pursuing "General Hospital" for years.

glowstars said...

My instinct would be to let her do as much as possible so her future options are open, but only as much as she enjoys. She's only five and as she grows, some of the things may fall by the wayside. Take care that you don't put too much pressure on yourself or her. She's only young, there's no need for her to head into major competition in the next few years, and you have to be able to find the time for yourself to get her to all these things, and the other two.

Das said...

You should tell her that they are going to cut her horse and ice skating instructors in half. Whichever one she wants to save means more to her. That's sound thinking.

Indy said...

We had a speaker at a SECPTA meeting that said just what thethirddegree said. You should let her dabble a little in everything and eventually (in many years) she will let you know which ones mean the most. The expert said not to go 100% in one area b/c they may miss out getting better at the other areas and burn out in your #1 choice. Then they have nothing.

Kel said...

Wow - sounds like you have a busy, busy schedule. I don't know when people actually focus on raw talent, but I do think its great that she can explore different avenues and find the thing that makes her heart soar with delight. Perhaps when she is older it will be more apparent which direction she should go...for now, I say let her enjoy a variety (2 at a time of course!) :)
~K

Katie said...

This got me thinking about my own childhood - as the youngest of 3 I didn't really have a choice....I did the same activity as my siblings for the sake of my mom's sanity and pocketbook as there were usually sibling discounts on lessons & classes. My sister took dance classes therefore so did I (I hated every last second of them). Eventually my mom found a gymnastics class at the dance facility that I could take at the same time that my sister was in her dance class – I liked that better.

My brother played soccer & was on the swim team...so was I. I hated swimming at first (started swimming competitively at age 5) but grew to love it and went on to swim for the next 13 years. I played soccer from kindergarten all the way to rec leagues in college.

My sister played violin so when it came time for me to choose an instrument guess what? We already had a violin so that’s what I played for my school-time lessons. The teacher always pushed my mom to get me private lessons since I had a natural affinity for music, but I wasn’t a big fan of playing so I never did sign up for those private lessons.

There were some other things sprinkled in – art classes, day-camps with horseback riding, etc. By the time I was in the 1st or 2nd grade I narrowed things down myself – soccer and swimming were my loves so I gave up dance and gymnastics. But we always had one rule: only one activity per “season” – summer was swim team season so I never played t-ball. Soccer was in the fall and that was it; I did give up soccer one year to try volleyball and quickly realized I made a mistake! Winter/Spring was indoor swim team. But the choice was always ours to make.

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

Wow! You are really blessed to have such a talented child. Lola will eventually decide which she likes the best on her own. She's like the kid that sees all the toy commericals on TV and want THEM ALL, she'll eventually gravitate to one or two things.

Jessica said...

I don't really know what you should or shouldn't do, since for one, I'm not a mother myself. But, my parents did make my younger sister choose between sports/activities. She was involved in volleyball, basketball, cheerleading, and track at school. Now, since she's becoming a freshman and they want her to focus more on school she's chosen to only get involved in volleyball and basketball.

So, maybe if you let Lola know that she's good at everything, but due to priorities (and life!) she must choose only 'x' amount of activities.

Jessica said...

I just read Indy's comment (and reread part of your post) and I get what she means, too. Lola is only 5. So, maybe just go with the flow. Don't break your back to get her involved in so much, but if you can do it, maybe you should for now and she'll develop a specific liking to one thing or another.

OK, enough parenting advice from a non-mother.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Take it easy. Pick 1 or 2 activities and stick with them until she doesn't want to do them anymore. She is only 5, and her tastes will most likely change a LOT. Also, encourage her to pick an activity that you don't mind attending. I personally don't want to spend hours and hours every week in an ice rink for figure skating or ice hockey. I also cannot imagine the expenses involved in football or horseback riding (my mom has a horse. The lessons are just the beginning. Riding in horse shows is really costly...)

She IS lucky that you can try new things. Encourage her to follow her joy and don't make it about something that she'll do as a career, but something that she'll do for fun.

I am P said...

My Schmoogie is just like Lola, AMAZING and GIFTED, everything he does he is great at, sports, academics, art, music...not just me saying it :) We just ran the LAX/Baseball juggle, and next year i will (i think) make him choose one or the other, although he "loves them both the same" too!! She is young enough that you should keep her in it all, as long as you can, and her "raw talent" will develop into her true love, you will see, it will be destiny!!
Embrace her gift! GO LOLA!

Gotfam said...

I don't think there is any "right" answer to this. All kids are different. But it's so great that you can expose her to so much. She'll find her favs in no time! What a fun mom you are!!

Ed said...

I think the exposure is a great thing. Eventually, she'll gravitate to what she really wants or enjoys.

Hopefully that will be soon because the constantly going to various lessons and practices can be draining!

Smart A$$ Mom said...

I just had the EXACT same convo this weekend with Mr.T. After religion, piano and girl scouts....what's her athletic? I am puzzled and am breaking my own rules of only one activity per season.

Renny said...

Well she has gotten to try a lot of things. Ask her if she could only pick two which would she pick. If that doesn't work just remember that if in awhile she doesn't really appreciate one thing anymore, maybe she can pick something else back up (I'm not usually and advocate of people letting their children quit something, but in this case it seems it would be alright.)

Courtney said...

I struggle with the same things. Let me know if you find a solution...one that doesn't make them cry.

Amy said...

Das' comment cracks me up!!

This is a really hard question. Is it possible to do half years for any of it? Like Horses and gymnastics in fall and swimming and skating in spring, for example? That could buy you one more year to see what she really truly loves the most.

Kari said...

I was NOT one of those kids. I wish I had been. My mom and dad kind of just left me to my imagination...and Barbies. It wasn't until I was about to start high school that I got into a couple of pageants, and went to Modeling school. I did that all throughout high school {the modeling} but it went nowhere...mainly because I lost my focus on it. I say give her a few weeks doing it all....then let HER wean herself off. Ask her to choose after a few weeks which ones she would rather do. From the sounds of it, she has only dabbled in them; MAYBE if she gets really in it, then she will find out which she likes the best. I am NOT looking forward to this time in our lives! But, it is quickly approaching!

Elaine A. said...

She is lucky to be good at so many things but I am sure it's hard to choose. I have no sage advice since you are blazing a trail I've yet to go down myself, but I do hope you can help her focus on one or two things for your own sanity! ; )

Dandelion Momma said...

My 27 year old brother is still "that kid". He went through every extra-curicular activity known to man and then some. After highschool, he went to college, then culinary school, then back to a different college, then joined the Army. He has plans to get yet another degree after his enlistment is up. There is no end in sight, but he is a very interesting person to talk to!

Krystyn said...

She is very lucky to have all of those opportunities.

Is it bad to say that I think she'll sort of naturally pick the one or two that she excels at? Do you think she'll keep moving up in all of them? I bet she gets to a point where decides she's had it with some of them.

Chandra said...

I wish I had half of her talent at just ONE thing.

As long as she doesn't get burnt out or it doesn't get to costly why not let her excel. I understand at five, she may or maynot know what is her favorite but my guess is after doing ALL of these things she will have her clear cut favorite and make your life a little bit easier!

Tara R. said...

Our kids had a lot going on too, but were a lot older than yours when I finally made each one of them pick the activity to drop. In the end, they knew which activity was the least favorite.

the mama bird diaries said...

I don't have any guidance but that girl sounds like a superstar!! I'd focus on the cheapest sport that's the closest to your house. :)

MommyTime said...

It can be hard to find balance when she's so good at lots of things, but I agree with those commenters who have said that it's a good idea not to over-schedule her. Perhaps dance or gymnastics during the school year, swimming or riding in summer? Lots of dance schools around here assume that young children don't take classes in summer anyway, so their sessions are school year based. That would make it possible to do something more outdoorsy in summer, and to keep her young body essentially cross-training. Of course, that doesn't make a space for skating...but the thing is that if she really wants to get serious about any of these sports, she will end up focused only on one and dropping all the others, so giving her seasons choices now might be a good way to help her focus while still giving her options. That's just my two cents...

Heather said...

Giggles is the same way with everything she does. She takes weekly lessons at an eventing barn not far from our house, she pays for those lessons herself because we simply can not afford to send her each week. I pay for shows and equipment, but she has always worked towards that. I hate to be the one to tell you that once they get hooked on horses there is no looking back. As much as you would like them to do something else, it just doesn't happen. She has been riding since she was 6. She was in soccer, but her asthma had its way with that, as well as swimming & ice skating. She plays volleyball for the school in the summer/fall and basketball (she has finally agreed to take the inhaler!) in the fall/winter. I try to only let her do one additional thing aside from horseback riding because if not I would run myself ragged between her and The Chicken-who thankfully isn't into much-just the singing/acting. I wish I had words of wisdom for you. I would probably let Giggles do more if hubby didn't work in the eves and if we could afford to do more.

Ask her to tell you what she wants to do, a list of sorts. I would ask her several different times-you will start to see a consistent ranking of the activities.

I feel for you, I really do. ((hugs))

Jessica said...

I was one of those overactive kids. Eventually my parents just told me that I could do no more than two things at a time. Hailey is 7 now, and we ask her which she would rather do. She may want to go back to something sometime, and we're open to that. No more than two sports at a time though.

Im2Sexy4MyVan said...

Couple things that work for our family. When one of the kid's activities dominates our schedules, I step back and make sure the other gets their fair chance to participate in things they may want to try. Especially because one of my children is much more sensitive and kind and giving of themself and would almost always roll over to make the other happy. My job is to make sure that one does not take away from the other. That "balance" and fairness for both children is the priority.

Other thing we do is make a silly rule that the summer activities are completely different than the school year activities. That is how I table the request for every activity under the sun. We just put it on our summer activity list. Or 1st semester list. Or 2nd semester list. Eventually they get to try all the activities, but not all at the same time.

And lastly, I caution you (lovingly) that just because some instructors tell you she has a talent doesn't mean it is your destiny to commit to signing her up for 6mn of classes or pulling her into private lessons. These "teachers" also see your pocketbook as their bread and butter. You are the mommy in charge. You will know when it is something really special... Until then, middle ground is fine.

I often think of the advice you gave me personally about joining team gymnastics vs. rec classes......

Burgh Baby said...

I was that kid, except without the resources to do stuff when I was little. In fact, I didn't pick up a basketball for the first time until 6th grade, yet I managed to get a college scholarship a few short years later. In other words, don't sweat it! She'll be fine no matter what she decides to do, and even if she changes her mind 50 times.

Every Day Goddess said...

My 10 year old daughter just chose to start competitive soccer, sometimes I think it is because her brother plays already. It is so hard to know what to do. We just got a great handout from Bruce Brown about the role of parents in athletics, he does encourage the trying of different activities also. I think it is awesome that you let them choose two. That is hard to schedule!!

Tiaras & Tantrums said...

I think we have the same middle child - and my daughter does kick my son's behind in karate - too funny too! We got rid of the other fluffy classes and just focus on ballet and gymnastics now (which she is fantastic in)

Elisa said...

I don't think she can choose the wrong ones, simply because if she likes them all and she's good at all of them, there's no wrong in sight.

mare ad mare said...

Lucky girl! As long as she's having fun with everything, and not (yet) complaining about too many practices here or there - then she must be still having a great time with it all!

Jaina said...

Maybe let her take an extra class over the summer? I would say that if you can handle two extra activities during the school year on top of the required stuff, then she should choose the two she wants to do most. She can always choose two different activities for the next sessions. She'll find where her passion lies. Good luck!

 

Blog Designed by: NW Designs

Original Header and Concept by: Judith Shakes