Maggie Makes Four!

This journal started off documenting the adoption of our youngest daughter. It now follows the twist and turns of our lives as we raise these two amazing little creatures into the best women they can become.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Dilemma

I wrote the post below to poke fun at the whole dance world where I live. But really there's a more difficult issue to navigate threaded in youth activities these days: Competition.

When I was a kid, you could play three sports and if you were really good, maybe around 10 you were invited to play on a competitive team that played closer to year round. But even then, you only practiced a couple of times a week, and there was always a break in the summer. So, you could play other sports or do other activities.

Today, we'll be navigating our kids through a whole different world. If a kid doesn't start something by 5, it could be too late. Of course, it isn't really too late, but what kid wants to pick up a sport at 8 and compete against other kids who have been playing it for 3 years? So, as a parent, your hand is forced, get your kids involved young or risk having them left out. Even worse, all the studies (and a bit of common sense) say, when kids are busy in their teens, they are less likely to get in trouble. But if they aren't busy young, will they want to be busy in their teens? So, it's risk burn out or boredom.

So, what's a parent to do? Start their toddlers in a host of activities or hold off? I have kept my kids mellow considering the options out there. Both girls do dance and gymnastics...activities that involve all the major muscle groups, somehow these activities seem good for little kids. Activities that require and build coordination seem wise, because they will serve kids well no matter which direction they take.

But, what if your child demonstrates an aptitude for something early? Do you let them move ahead, challenge themselves and possibly succeed? Or do you purposely hold off? Do you try to walk a middle road where you neither push nor hold back and let your intuition guide your decisions? We've tried the latter, and it's worked great. BUT I can see where in 18 months, the activities will want a bigger commitment. And in order to continue to be challenged, our daughter will have to make a decision. She'll have to choose between activities, become a specialist, by the 3rd grade. Isn't that crazy?

What's changed since I was a kid? I wonder if it's where I live--in the Bay Area, a crazy area, to say the least. I wonder if it's our success driven culture. I wonder if it's my own fault for letting my child try early, yet I'm proud of her I don't regret exposing her. I just wish it was simpler. I wish that we didn't face such decisions so young. You know, it may be easy. La Nina may just love something, and that will be that. But at this point, she loves dance AND gymnastics...and those are two mistresses which do not tolerate sharing and require commitment very young. It will be interesting to watch the paths they take her.


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