There was a volleyball camp this winter and my wife and I wanted our 7-year-old daughter Harper to do it. It was every Saturday for 6 weeks, or something like that.
“I don’t want to give up my Saturdays,” Harper responded.
It was a shockingly mature and reasonable thing to say. Annie loved playing volleyball and we really wanted her to do it. But we really didn’t have an argument beyond that.
So we didn’t sign her up.
Right now, I feel like she’s in discovery mode and it’s our job to expose her to as many things as possible. But what if she is the most naturally-gifted bassoon player ever and we haven’t exposed her to a bassoon because I’m really not even sure what a bassoon is?!
Yet she feels no pressure to discover and we feel pressure to expose.
She should be learning Spanish? Did we miss the magical language learning window?
Volleyball is huge in Delaware County, Indiana, and if you don’t start playing while in utero you’ll be left behind!!
As a parent, when do you push kids toward an activity, and when do you allow them to discover their passion on their own?
This is a question we’re wrestling with a bit right now. Even more so, when I lay it out like I just have. We’re also concerned that she’ll love to do too much and we’ll spend half our week running all over between practice and lessons, and the weekend on travel teams.
Now add our son Griffin, 4, into the mix. What will he want to play? What should we expose him to?
I’m not criticizing any of the above. I believe sports build character, we all should be multilingual, and music expands the mind. I have no doubt that some of the above is in our future, and I should stop stressing the hell out about it because ultimately it will be Harper and Griffin who decide.
I remember loving basketball. I remember getting burned out with basketball in high school. I never really loved piano, but I enjoy fiddling with my guitar a bit now, and we’re thinking of moving my old piano from my parents’ house into our basement. I look forward to playing it again.
I hope our kids get what they want out of practices, lessons, music, and sports. I hope we can allow our kids’ passions and joys to lead the way.
This whole post was inspired by a picture I took of Harper last night (see above). She was silhouetted by the setting sun as she shoots a basketball. Her form doesn’t look half bad. She wasn’t out there pounding the pavement because we forced her to be out there, she was out there because she wanted to be.
Parents, how did you decide what activities to expose your kids to?
Are you an adult who still enjoys an activity from your childhood? How were you first exposed to it?