Friday, January 26, 2007

Let Them Be Little

Hygiene Chronicles from The Blogfathers posted an outstanding article about his kid's Christmas Pageant, and his son's lack of enthusiasm about it. It struck a chord with me, particularly since we spend inordinate amounts of time in our family's quest to become Black Belts and a closer family as a result.
For five minutes we bribed this kid with every we could…favors, treats, crackers. (For the record, I ate the goldfish crackers when he didn’t want them.) As the last goldfish went down, I suddenly realized that this pageant wasn’t for him anymore… it had become about me.

OmiGod, I had volidated the cardinal rule of parenting…let your kid find his/her true joy with what he wants to do and then appreciate what they love. I, of all people, was wanting my child to do what I wished for him and was ignoring his own wants.
I sometimes (ok, often) feel like we may be doing this with our kids. Not so much Princess, who is still thoroughly enjoying herself, but with Cowboy. The fact that we are all involved, I think, sometimes guilts him into going. I wonder, if it was just him doing this instead of all of us, if he would still be as motivated.

SW and I getting involved has proven to be a double-edged sword. When we first got into this, it was just them--and we would go every Tuesday and Thursday and watch happily. In the end we ended up joining with them, so we would have a better idea as to what they were doing. What happened, in reality, was that we ourselves got hooked. Slowly, almost imperceptively, SW and I got into what we were doing, and slowly lost a direct involvement in the monkies' enjoyment. Not in their training--since we followed through on our original reasons for starting and assisted them in learning and progressing--but in their enjoyment. We're so involved in talking to other parents, trying to recruit others to join, answering questions and talking with classmates about our own issues that we fail to immerse oursleves fully in what the kids are doing in class. As a result, if they aren't having fun--we may not notice.

And then there's the money. We've spent sooo much money on this, on equipment, classes, tournaments, additional instruction, that we are committed for the long haul. The first thought that enters my mind when Cowboy starts whining about class is not his desires, but my own for him and the shrinking wallet in my pocket.

I fear that we have started down a path that will give the kids great experiences, but give their childhood in exchange. We are so busy with things that they rarely have enough time to enjoy life and the innocence of their youth. Sometimes I just want to skip class, crash on the couch and watch "Star Wars" with Cowboy, or read a book with Princess, or just hold Odie. And that doesn't happen that much anymore.

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