Living vicariously

She lives vicariously through her children.  Ever heard that term before?  I have.  I have used it myself.  It was never meant as a compliment.

We all have the friends who do this.  They put their tomboy girls in dance because they did it. They want their kids to be “popular” because they were.  Son wants to play an instrument in the marching band yet is forced into football.  The kids are generally unhappy and the parents by and large aren’t that much fun to be around either.  I certainly don’t want to be that parent.

I don’t think it is that difficult to see what a child enjoys or doesn’t enjoy.  What is challenging as a parent is making them do something you know they enjoy when they don’t want to do it.

I am a terrible dancer.  Trust me on this one.  I even cringe a little at the consideration that dance may be a sport.  It isn’t something I ever saw myself wanting for my girls.  And then I had Sophie.

Sophie loves music.  She loves to sing.  And she loves to dance.  She often combines singing and dancing with normal daily activities.  Such as brushing her teeth, cleaning her room and even eating dinner.  If there were ever an Olympic sport that entailed eating chips and salsa while dancing, Sophie would take home the gold.  I think she has rhythm.

I enrolled her in hip hop two years ago.  She took 7 classes before the studio went belly up.  I was worried about her reaction and promised her I would find a new place right away.  Her response?  “I really don’t want to take dance lessons”.  She has quit soccer and girl scouts and only wants to swim.  I never have to beg her to go to practice, she can’t wait for meets and is always looking for ways to sneak into a more advanced practice group.  She is a great swimmer and loves it.  You would think all is well.

I still think that child needs to dance.  I bring it up from time to time and she is dismissive of it.  This Thursday there is a free demo class at a studio near the pool.  I suggested she go try it out.  She reminded me that Thursday is when she sneaks into the Juniors practice and since practice is cancelled this Sunday she needs to swim Thursday.

As a parent, I never saw myself in this situation, one where I am trying to force my child to do something SHE loves and I don’t!

I don’t know what you would call this or how you would judge me for it but if you want to, go for it.  It has me scratching my head.



The Dream Crusher

aka The Literal

Grace is both a dream crusher and a literal.

This isn’t knew to her.  A few years ago she was in the car with her best friend and her mother and the friend was saying she wanted to sing on Broadway.  Her mother was telling her that anything was possible if you try hard enough.  Grace felt the need to point out that NO, not anything is possible, that luck, talent and timing also factored into the equation and that effort alone would not get you anywhere.  She took it a step further to point out that her friend was not the best singer.  Who says honesty is the best policy?

She is also a literal.  She and I have challenging conversations at times because I use sarcasm, hyperbole and over exaggeration to tell my stories.  She often interrupts my enchanting tales with a question that usually starts with “Did you literally hear/do/witness….?”.  She is a buzz kill for a story-teller of my sorts.

When it comes to goal setting though Grace is very realistic.  She never has a pie in the sky approach to anything, especially swimming.  She is pretty dead on with her expected meet results.  Same with grades in school.  Reliable and predictable has its upsides.

Unless you are her sisters.  Sarah especially has delusions of grandeur. Sarah plans a soccer, swimming and academic scholarship for herself.  Grace loves to shoot them both down.  This summer on the way to a meet Sarah asked if I thought she could go to the All-Stars Meet.  Before I could even suck in a breath, Grace jumped in.  She said “Sarah, can I be honest with you?”.  I was able to get out a quick NOOOOOO before she went on.  In short, Grace told her it was not going to happen.  Grace was in fact right, it didn’t, but Sarah killed herself trying.  The upside to a Dream Crusher is that they can motivate a Super Charged Ego Dream Maker!  If only Sarah’s talent and ego would meet in the middle.  Given time, they will.

Sophie decided the other day that she was going to make a 9-10 qualifying time for a meet in December.  As an 8-year-old.  She plans to do a 37.99 in 50 fly.  Is this a realistic goal by December?  Yes.  December 2013 and then she will only be 9.  Grace promptly told her she was crazy and there is no way she could do it.

Turns out, Grace may be correct.  Because poor Sophie is still a mini.  Her only option at her upcoming meet is a 25 fly.

My wheels are always turning and this case was no exception.  The meet the following weekend has 9-10 50 fly.  I did my research.  Last year two eight year olds participated in the meet.  I asked the question.  Can Sophie swim in this meet as well?  I got a maybe, let me check – followed by a sorry, too late.

She was bummed.  Grace was too.  The coach is taking over her job.  Dream Crusher Extraordinaire.

I used to find Grace annoying but I have grown to appreciate her realistic approach to life.  She keeps me grounded and I push her to dream bigger.  I wish I could be more like Sarah, she thinks she is unstoppable.  Sophie is the quiet one.  I think she is going to sneak up on all of them.  Watch out.

I always tell my kids to Dream Big.  But there is nothing wrong with dreaming realistically.  I notice that Grace is my sound sleeper, her realistic approach to life may have some merit.