Life on the Scales (aka Parenting is a Balancing Act)

My daughter likes to watch her brother’s soccer games on one of her only days off from gym.

Today, I am being a bad parent and a good parent at the same time. You see, I am letting my 11 year-old daughter play hooky from school. I know, I know…what an irresponsible mom! But I do have a good reason. My daughter, who is now a level 8 competitive gymnast, is almost never home. Since she is required to train 22 hours per week, nearly every moment of her time is absorbed by school or training for her sport. Even when we do have moments together, driving to schools or the gym, she is usually doing homework. The sacrifice? Time together to swap jokes, talk about books, or learn how to French braid hair. Time to be silly and play pretend or even watch her pet hamster run around his cage. Sit down and eat family meals together? Ha! Five evenings per week, I hand my daughter an insulated thermos full of food to eat during her break.

Sometimes, I feel terrible, as though my kid is missing out on a normal childhood. Her brothers get so much more time to play with friends, to daydream, to bake cookies, and to lie about watching Spongebob cartoons. They get so much more of my personal time and attention. It seems so uneven.

“I don’t mind, Mom,” my daughter told me the last time I expressed these concerns. She is perfectly happy to eat from a thermos and breathe chalk dust 22 hours per week. She would rather swing around the uneven bars or do flips on a balance beam than daydream and play with friends. It is a sacrifice, but for her, the payoff makes it completely worthwhile.

This week, due to the time and financial commitment to her sport, she was unable to join her sixth grade classmates at science camp. So, rather than force her to go to school and be the only kid there, playing hangman and watching movies with a substitute teacher, for today, I decided to let her stay home. What a great morning it has been! We built structures together with Kapla blocks, did housework while listening to music, and then lounged around on the sofa, watching Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. Then I taught her how to make the perfect cup of tea, while we discussed the book she is reading, Anne of Green Gables, and we ate warm slices of fresh, homemade bread. Next, we are going to paint our nails and practice French braiding hair. Bad parenting? Maybe. As for me, I call it balance.

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4 responses to “Life on the Scales (aka Parenting is a Balancing Act)

    • It’s so true, Carlos! I have always been self-motivated, too, but my daughter’s level of drive and dedication astound me at times. And soemhow, even with all of her time commitments, she is driven enough to maintain straight-A’s in school. Wish I could take the credit, but she is simply a hard-working kid.

    • I think it’s all relative. Many kids take dance or violin just to keep them occupied and that’s ok. Every once in a while there are girls like the Williams sisters, a particularly talented violinist, or science interested child. I think that letting her pursue her passion until it runs out (if it does) is better than reorienting her toward other,perhaps less satisfying pursuits. On the other hand, as a believer in the humanities, a vaariety is valuable. I can remember, as a teenager and chess player, walking into a malt shop with a large-tiled floor and imagining that, were I a knight, I controlled a particular tile. This was a sign that I was playing way to much chess. Lovely girl!

      • Thanks. 🙂 The chess reference made me smile. I think of chess whenever I come across a large square-tiled floor. To the best of my ability, I will continue to keep allowing my daughter to pursue her passion. She is quite talented and could go far — hopefully to a great university on a full scholarship. It would be nice to see all of this sacrifice and hard work pay off financially in the long run.

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