Years ago I watched an Olympian accredit her success to her father encouraging her. I remember thinking how I couldn’t imagine ever encouraging my child to do something that would be very difficult to succeed.
This past week was “observation” week at the place where Gabby does the majority of her extra-curricular activities. I sat through ballet and jazz, her Toy Story play and hip hop and poms. It was exciting to see a sample of what the girls spent weeks working on. I loved seeing Gabby under the lights wiggling her little booty. At the end of her shows, my cheeks ached from smiling so hard.
The referendum for full day kindergarten passed in our community, so next year Gabby will be in school from 8:30 until 3:25. It will be a long day and there’s no saying how she will adapt to this schedule. It pains me to say that her extra-curricular activities will have to drastically scale back.
I have the feeling that whatever I encourage her to do is going to be the path she takes. I danced my whole adolescence and loved it. Although I’d love her to follow in my footsteps, I want to set her up for success. She loves dancing around the house, claims ballet is her favorite class and can put on a homemade show like the best of them. Yet, when she gets on stage…I can’t say it’s exactly electrifying.
She’s four years old and has a long (dancing) future (G-d willing) ahead so she doesn’t have to be Angelina Ballerina today BUT…what if she’s never? Did the Olympian’s parents see a shining star from day one or did they just hold their breath? I don’t want Gabby to spend the next fourteen years getting rejected from dance. Or is there still hope? It seems like it’s a short run in my community from dance being just a fun extra-curricular activity to something competitive. Am I better off sparing her feelings and skip to art club? Or is competition and rejection just part of growing up and we just need to jump both feet in and deal with potential trauma when it arises?
My conversation with my Olympic hopeful child would go something like this…”what are the chances you’ll actually win the gold medal, honey? Why don’t you just join the club?” And then the whole world would miss out on the talent. Maybe just another example of my poor parenting…or not? What do you think?