My daughter starts pre-ballet tonight. Yes, she’s only three but Tiger was a toddler when he first started swinging a golf club, right? (OK, maybe he’s not the best example role model to use.)
It’s natural for parents to want their kids to take part in activities like they did as a kid. But unfortunately, it’s common for parents to force their kids to take part in activities that they wish they could have been great in themselves. Enter right, stage mom. Enter left, boys soccer coach.
I took dance for about 12 years. I was okay, but definitely never anything to write home about. I placed in a dance competition or two back in the day and then I became focused on other things in life—my friends, school, cheerleading—and dance became something I dreaded. I couldn’t wait to quit. And, at the time, I was glad that my mom didn’t force me to stay in it. If I didn’t want to dance anymore, I didn’t have to. That was it.
Looking back, I wish I would have stuck with it and applied myself more. Maybe I could’ve been better, thinner, more talented, more graceful—insert whatever qualities dancers have that I don’t. Instead, I am the person at weddings who has a few drinks and busts out her old cheerleading routine to Beastie Boys’ Brass Monkey. (Fortunately, not too often.)
No sense dwelling on coulda…woulda…shoulda. Biz e-Mom is a wanna-be dancer.
Biz e-Dad is a wanna-be soccer player. Since our son was a fetus, Biz e-Dad has been talking about how he would grow up to play for Real Madrid or the Polish national team (my husband’s European.) Biz e-Baby2 had soccer ball rattles, soccer booties, and various team onesies – all before he was six months old.
I’ve warned my husband, “Watch out—you keep brain washing our son with all this soccer stuff and he’s going to be sick of it before he’s old enough to play.”
Those threats don’t work. My husband wants to live vicariously through our son, plain and simple. Fortunately, I know that we are sensible enough parents that neither one of us is going to be seriously disappointed if either of our children picks a different path. I am not one of those crazy moms from “Toddlers & Tiaras.” If you haven’t seen this show, flip to TLC. It’s disturbing. I take comfort in knowing that my husband isn’t going to push our son into anything he doesn’t want to do either. Maybe Biz e-Baby2 will want to play the violin?
I’ve read about talented stars like Venus and Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Christina Aguilera, and others who gave up everything –including their childhood– to follow their (or their parents’) dream of becoming professional. It worked for them. But, I am not sure I’d have it in me to be that driving parental force needed to make my kids do something with such unrelenting dedication and commitment. I know there must have been a time when Tiger said, “I don’t want to practice today.” Tiger’s dad pushed him forward despite that.
I think that seeing how your children grow and discover who they are as people is one of the best surprises of parenting. I firmly believe that while children may not know everything, they are capable of making some decisions about what they like and don’t like on their own with a little guidance. If my mother would have insisted that I continue dancing after I’d lost interest, I would have been angry, unhappy and disengaged. I am glad I had a say in what I did and who I became. What’s more is that I was freed up to explore new opportunities because of it. (Arguably, Venus and Serena have had many way cooler experiences than me but I am okay with that.)
For tonight I suspect our tiny dancer will play dress up in her cute pink leotards, little ballet shoes and stand in a line with a class of other clueless three-year-olds whose mother’s signed them up because, they too, are wanna-be dancers. We aren’t grooming any prima ballerinas yet, it’s just fun.
- Spotted: Jennifer Garner and Her Tiny Dancer (celebritybabies.people.com)
- Julianne Hough Denies Wedding Bells, Focuses on New Film (theboot.com)
- “So You Think You Can Dance” Season Eight Auditions Begin Wednesday, October 13, In Oakland, Ca (tvbythenumbers.com)
- Men in Dance Festival Back to Bulk up Support for…Men In Dance (seattlest.com)