Yesterday I received a text from one of my very dear friends and she wanted to know if I had a picture of our two daughters when they took ballet together when they were around 5 years old. When she asked my first response was, “I doubt it” since I did not record a lot of childhood memories as the iPhone wasn’t invented yet and my camera abilities were zero to none. But, I told her I’d look.
I pulled out my version of a photo album. It is basically a 3 ring binder that houses a big loose pile of pictures in between two covers. There I sat looking through some of the old good times our family had together. There were a few pictures of a much younger me, my husband and our beloved Border Collie, Jake, along with a pretty good progression of the early years of my children.
After more rummaging, I saw a glimpse of pink. I pulled the picture from the pile and lo and behold, there it was. A dark photo of my daughter and her friend in pink leotards. It was nostalgic, for sure.
After one session of ballet, my daughter was completely over it. It wasn’t in her nature to be pink and frilly and she did not want to do anything that even remotely resembled being lithe and graceful. Eventually, she exchanged her tutu for a soccer ball.
In the early years, it is important to expose children to many different types of activities and I can confidently say I’m an expert in this area. Within the past 5 years, my son participated in football, skateboarding, basketball, soccer, wakeboarding, and 2 more visits to soccer and basketball and in that process, he opted to break 8 bones. Not an ideal situation, but those experiences are now a part of his make-up and he loves to tell his war stories.
My point is, let children explore all avenues of extracurricular activities. See what they like and what they excel in. During my days on the soccer field there was persistent chatter from parents bragging about how fabulous a player their child was and how they will only play for a Div. 1 school. That is all fine and dandy if that is what your child wants not you.
A good rule of thumb is to check-in with reality and your child once in a while to re-evaluate whose dream it is to become the next prima ballerina or World Cup soccer star.
Children have the gift of time to test their likes and dislikes in extracurricular activities. Why not let them be the star of their own show.