I knew there would be a day when this lesson would hit me (or Matt), but I never realized it would happen so early in Ellie's life...
We've been talking about getting Ellie into more activities this summer. It's the perfect time of the year to do it with the great weather, and let's just face it, my shy daughter can use any socialization she can get. Her best friend, B (yes, that is really his nickname!) is super active, and athletic. This kid is going to be a professional athlete when he grows up, I just know it! So B's mom is going to enroll him in soccer this summer. I was so excited when I heard she had found a soccer program for toddlers their age. Of course I want to enroll my daughter in a soccer program! I grew up playing soccer, I loved soccer, I excelled at soccer! Soccer was a huge part of my life, and I wanted to share that with Ellie.
But then Matt and I started really discussing it. It's a well known fact around our house that Ellie is not the most coordinated or athletic toddler...it's adorable, but she really is pretty clumsy. It's also a well known fact that given the opportunity, she really doesn't prefer to be running around playing with balls. She gets bored of playing with her ball in our backyard. And she still cries at the slightest fall she takes, and she cries even harder if the fall was because of another kid. She is still scared and timid when there are a lot of kids running all around her. We started to realize that she really wouldn't thrive and enjoy a soccer program. Don't get me wrong, I definitely fought it for a bit...trying to convince myself that putting her in soccer would be good for her...that it would "toughen" her up. But then I realized I was just trying to find reasons to enroll her in soccer because I love soccer so much, not because it is really what is best for her. And so, we talked about what she would enjoy, what would be the best for her. It became pretty clear what kind of program we should be enrolling her in this summer...Ellie loves to dance, she loves music, she loves rhythm and beat. She loves singing songs and dancing around the living room. She loves doing the actions to all the songs she knows and she asks to listen to them over and over. Right now, this kid is not an athlete. She is a dancer who loves music and songs. So this summer, we will enroll her in a music and dance class. And I know she will love every minute of it!
|(Image credit myprettymommy.blogspot.com)|
So what was the parental lesson I learned? My kid might not follow in my footsteps, and that is okay. She might not be the same as I was when I was a kid. I was a tomboy, I loved sports and loved being athletic. Ellie might not be athletic. She might not be a soccer star, she might hate sports. And I have to be okay with that and support her in whatever activities she does enjoy.
I understand that you should not pigeon hole your child into any one activity. I am definitely all about exposing your child to a wide variety of activities, especially when they are young, to keep them well rounded. But I am not about pushing them into doing something they really don't enjoy. Ellie is too young to vocalize this to us right now, so as her parents, we had to learn this lesson quickly and not force her into a soccer program just because I played soccer, or because her best friend would be doing it.
And maybe in a couple of years, Ellie will develop into an athlete. Maybe as she gets bigger, and her legs get longer, and her feet get bigger, she will start to learn how to run fast, and enjoy kicking a ball around. But maybe not. Maybe in a couple years she will still be a dancer loving music and singing, a girly girl, the complete opposite of me as a kid. But that's okay! I want my daughter to enjoy whatever she chooses to do, even if it's not what I would have chosen as a child. That's so much more important than her following in her mom or dad's footsteps. I'm glad I learned this parental lesson, and I'm actually glad I learned it so early in her life. One more lesson down, many many more to go!
|(Image credit wolfandwillowblog.com)|