Remember when we all used to watch American Idol and our guilty pleasure was watching the horrible auditions?
I have to ask … since we are all so into telling our kids they can do anything or be anything, are we really helping them, or setting them up to embarrass themselves?
Every time I saw one of those poor kids screeching like a dying hippogriff, I wondered “Why didn’t that poor boy’s mama tell him singing wasn’t his thing?!” Because you know he thought he sounded like a pubescent Celine Dion.
I ask because my kids are trying out new sports and activities, and I’m having a hard time telling them that they can do anything. While it’s true that they can try anything, and possibly enjoy it, I do not believe they can necessarily be GOOD AT anything.
My sweet Lu took gymnastics and it was really frustrating for both of us. She wanted to try it because it looked fun, but she’s not built for it and she’s a little skittish about leaving the ground. She enjoyed it, but she wasn’t meeting the goals that her instructors set for the class. Lu is very competitive, so some of our gymnastics lessons ended in tears and frustration.
I have all the conflicted mom feelings of wanting to teach her perseverance and hard work, but at the same time, I don’t want to push her to do something that she’s never going to be much better than average at.
Hubby and I are wired very differently when it comes to sports and hobbies. He can’t understand doing anything unless you are absolutely committed to being the best at it. I am totally fine with doing a lot of different things that I enjoy, whether I’m great at it or not. We may kill each other when our kids get a little older and more involved in extracurriculars.
This fine line of finding what you’re good at AND what you enjoy can be tricky. Hubby would assert that you can’t enjoy anything unless you’re good at it. I am clearly the underachiever in our house because I think that’s nonsense. I am terrible at knitting, but I still make people hideous hats for Christmas.
I want to be real with my kids and let them know that everybody is not good at everything, and maybe some activities aren’t for us. We are still very early in the game and I know we have lots of time to find what they all enjoy and are good at. But what if those are not the same?
I have a hard time imagining tell Lu “Honey, I am so glad you love underwater basketweaving, but your baskets look like tangled piles of garbage. Maybe you should take up professional jump rope.”
But if I don’t tell her that, one day when she’s auditioning for America’s Next Top Basketweaver, hard-nose judge Martha Stewart is going to crush her dreams and Lu will wonder why I lied to her all those years.
I know many of you have children who picked up a softball or volleyball or football at age 4 and knew that that was their thing and they have played it ever since and they love it and you all lived happily ever after with your private lessons and travel teams and college scholarships. I’m so happy for you and I totally don’t have any jealous and evil thoughts when I see your happy Facebook posts about your kid’s record-breaking season and how much he loves the game.
For those of you whose kids haven’t found their thing … hang in there, I’m right with you and I stress about it too. If you’re constantly analyzing your kids, trying to figure out what would be best for their amazing and unique gifts and personalities — I get it, I’m a basket case too. I’m sure we’re overthinking it, and I know these are first-world problems, but we just want our babies to be happy and fulfilled, to find their people. I don’t care what kind of weirdos my kids turn out to be if they figure out what to do with their weirdness and have a great time doing it.
OK, well as long as they’re not those American Idol cringe-worthy audition weirdos … that’s where I draw the line.
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Overheard at the salon: “Girl, you need therapy and a cheeseburger.”
Julie Holt is a wife, mother of three, hair stylist, runner, reader, writer, and is tired. Very tired. She works in Brentwood, lives in Spring Hill and can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow Julie on Twitter @jh_lighter_side.