Monday, December 7, 2009


It’s piano recital day. The middle child (11) and the youngest child (9) are performing at 11:15. Not bad. It’s Saturday; we have time to get dressed and eat without rushing.

Middle child already has her outfit planned; youngest child does not. This requires help from the mommy, who goes to her closet to make a suggestion, only to find that all the fall/winter dressy pants and skirts are gone.

“Oh, that’s right…I gave them all away,” the mommy remembers.

(See post titled, “Decluttering #1”)

The mommy and youngest child go to middle child’s closet where they find a skirt. Youngest child has to wear tights (that are more like hose) and gets upset because of the sagging crotch. The mommy and middle child tell her how to pull up the tights, but youngest child is resisting. A battle of the wills ensues and the mommy wins.

Later, the mommy finds youngest child sprawled on the living room floor; no audio and no kicking (she’s wise) – just lying there sending the mommy’s blood pressure up higher.

The husband/daddy drives to the church while the mommy tries to calm down. Her arm and shoulder feel a little achy. She wonders if she’s having a heart attack or a stroke, but it occurs to her that it’s her over-used blogging arm, which extends to the hand that maneuvers the mouse.

“That’s a relief,” thought the mommy.

Middle child and youngest child perform fairly well.

After their performances, youngest child is noticeably relaxed. The mommy wonders if she was nervous this morning before the recital. All three of her kids have done recitals for years – sometimes they’re excited and sometimes they’re not.

It makes the mommy question their interest in playing the piano and their other present and future activities. Oldest child is loving sports and is practicing daily from four until six o’clock. The husband/daddy is worried that she's not getting enough sleep because she's up late doing homework, and he's wondering if it is a good idea to do sports the entire nine months of school. The mommy thinks it is a test of mental and physical toughness.

A close friend of the mommy has a boy and a girl who have been involved in several activities and have suddenly lost interest in most. The two friends have discussed many things concerning activities, such as: the possibility of being over-scheduled, the passions and interests of the kids, the activities insisted on by the parents, the kids’ talents, letting them quit something or making them continue, academic pursuits, health, exhaustion, down time, volunteering, grades, etc. - a lot to weigh.

The piano lessons are considered part of the kids’ education and will be continued because the mommy and husband/daddy feel that it is good for them. They will assess each new opportunity or possible change as it comes along.

Do you let your child/children decide their activities, or do you decide, or is it a joint decision? I’d love to hear about some of the things they do, and I think others would too. :)


Lee said...

My kids decide...I tried to do it for them, but when they are in something they don't want to do, they refuse to participate. Then I feel like I am paying for them to sit in a corner. They can do that at home.

Unknown said...

If your kids don't feel passionate about it, they won't push themselves. They have to know that when it's time to quit.

TV Boo trained in a US gymnastics facility with the goal of going to the Olympics and a college scholarship. She suffered a spinal injury that could've led to paralysis. Her doctor gave her the choice, to work out in pain or quit. She chose to quit. It was her choice.

Married Boo was in hip hop dance. I thought she did very good yet, I didn't see excitement as she went through the moves. When given the chance to quit, she didn't even look back.

I think it's only fair to allow the kids to make a decision. Now, I would make sure that they have some outside educational activity or sport at least.

the mom said...

Has your oldest quit piano, to be able to do sports? What do the other two think about that?
We decide together, I guess. We try to work out what is possible - what doesn't cost too much, not too far away, not too dangerous etc etc.
My oldest daughter has been waiting for ballet lessons for about three years now, doing gymnastics meanwhile, and are now very happy finally a ballerina. I apriciate she has been waiting without complaining too much, and I'm now happy with the extra work it means for me taking her to ballet.

Judy T. said...

Good blog.
We require our son to do a sport, but he can chose which one. Otherwise, he'd be sitting around all the time, at his computer or a book in his face (we love reading, but physical activity is important too). We feel lucky that he chose to play an instrument and has enjoyed all 3 years of MS band. He also decided to play competitive chess at a young age and still enjoys it. We try to capitalize on his expressed interests and try them out to see if they are a good fit for him. I agree with some respondents who say pushing a kid leads to resistance and loss of interest...though how many times have I heard (or said) "If only my parents made me...." play guitar, learn French, take drawing lessons...

Joanne said...

My kids are college age now, but growing up, they tried a little of this, a little of that, piano lessons for a bit, soccer, tap. Often we left their time unscheduled, except for school of course. I think the unstructured time is as important as the structured, allowing them to just be kids and fill their time with ease.

yonca said...

My son loves music. Singing, dancing. He has a webshow on KidzBop.He decides what he wants and i help him, search, find out the places. He is so energetic and loves sports too. Only the swimming I decided when he was little. He was trying to swim in bath tube when i decided to put him in swimming:)He has always loved the water.He is level 4 and swimming well.Last summer he wanted to learn skateboarding. We got a skateboard and took him to skatepark. We were lucky we have one very close to him:)

Anonymous said...

We give them the freedom to choose what they want to do, and we guide them toward activities we think they will enjoy and be good at. Forcing them to continue in an activity they dislike only breeds resentment and frustration. It has to be enjoyable for them. Sometimes you have to help them through the early frustrations of not being good at something when they first start out, but it's easy to tell whether it's that or just not liking the activity.

Daughter #1 is great at sports. She has tried most of them, and has chosen the ones she likes best (one for each season). Soccer, basketball, and softball. She is passionate about all three, and tries her best to be good at them all.

Daughter #2 is a singer/dancer/actress. She tried a few sports but didn't like them very much. She gets her physical activity through dance and stage acting anyway. Music is her thing, so we find activities for her that feed her interests. Voice lessons, piano lessons, dance, and theater. She loves being on stage, so we make sure she gets opportunities to pursue that.

Daughter #3 is only 23 months old, so we'll see what she chooses when the time comes. Like the other two, we'll expose her to everything, and let her decide what she likes and what she doesn't, and then provide opportunities for her to find her own path.

Abby said...

We let our kids decide. When they were younger, we signed them up for "everything", sports-wise anyway, so they could decide what they like and what they don't.

Glad you were just suffering a case of blog arm.

My Aimless Infatuation said...

My children have been gone from home more years than I care to admit but there is one thing for sure. Your children are blessed with great parents and guidance. It will all come to you.

Anita said...

HELLO EVERYONE, Great comments! Sounds like you all are making decisions "with" your children instead of "for them."
I think there are certain factors in making "activity" decisions, because every child is different and has a unique personality. Some children need a "push", some need to be "reined" and some are in between. And, as in the case of CHOCOLATE'S daughter, injuries can make a decision for you, which is sad if the child is really into the sport or dance.
Some things, like swimming lessons, was not a choice for my kids, but I did not make them do swim team. So far the piano lessons are working out. They are not thrilled, but I see the pride in their faces when they "master" a piece, and that tells me that its not time to quit.
THE MOM, I see you noticed that my oldest daugther is not taking lessons. The sports thing caught me off guard, and I have to figure out how to get lessons for her again - maybe not as frequently, but enough to maintain the skill. She's a good player.
JUDY T., I have said, and heard it said, too, from adults - "I wish I had stayed with..." I'm sure that has an impact on me and some others.
JEFF, your family is bizzzzy! And the baby hasn't even started. I'll bet she's been to Romp and Roll, Story Time, or something like that though. :)
JOANNE, I agree - gotta have down time.
YONCA, we may be hearing about your son 15 years from now doing something fascinating!
LEE, I've seen some of those kids and parents you mentioned. Oh, and how about those little beauty queens that you see on TV having tantrums.
ABBY, thanks for thinking about my precious arm. :)
AIMLESS, I appreciate your kind words about parenting.



gayle said...

My kids are in their 30's But I would love to give my 2 cents.....keep piano. When I was little I took piano lessons but didn't want to practice so my parents said ok..I have always wished that they had made me continue.Some of my friends that had parents that made them continue piano may not have liked it at the time but are glad now. I think now a days some kids are involved in too much. School work should always come first. When my girls were young we talked about it together. My rule was if you start something you have to continue it for a least the year or what ever the time period was.

the mom said...

Well, at the moment I feel kind of lost, not really sure how our situation really is. If we decide together, or if I guide my daughter towards what I want her to do, or if I even push her.
One thing am I sure about, I would never go so far as paying her money to continue, as I have friends doing with their kids. Having arrived at that point, the kid has clearly no longer an interest for the activity.

Anonymous said...

I allowed my children to choose the things that would fill their childhood days. Sometimes parents really have their children in too many things. THAT said, I have never met an adult who rerets learning the piano, I know many who regret quitting. I quit becuae my mom was rigid and made what I loved doing a drudgery. She required more than my piano teacher and she could not even play.

Menopausal New Mom said...

Interesting topic. I plan to let my daughter decide when she's older. My rule will be even if she doesn't want to she has to try it and then after a couple of months still doesn't like it, she wont' have to. Easy to say now. Wonder what I will be posting when she gets older Lol!

BTW, check out my kitchen photos today and you will see why I commented on your kitchen looking so similar

Anya Campbell said...

Hey, Anita -- It's always so fun to read your blog (prepping me for someday when I have kids of my own? :-). Always love the posts about music! And, yes, H IS a good musician! :-)

Jen said...

I remember when my parents made me quit ballet to study the piano. I HATED them for it. I had no talent and no desire to learn the piano. This is the time for your children to be exploring and finding out what they like and don't like. When they find their talent and /or passion, everyone will know.

Anita said...

GAYLE, Good advice. Thank you. It's always good to hear from parents that have been through it.

THE MOM, Yes, when someone is paying their child to do an activity - I would wonder how that effects the child.
I think you will know if your child really doesn't want do something; like maybe if their whole day is ruined, or if she or he is sad or grouchy beyond the normal temporary whining - if it happens everytime it's activity day.
My test for continuing an activity is a question to myself - How will this benefit my child's future?
Keep blogging about it and you will probably get answers by "talking" about it.

Anita said...

THE THINGS WE CARRIED, I agree. Everyone that I know wo plays piano, loves it. It's an outlet that is very relaxing. It's music!

MENONEWMOM-DEB, Sounds like a good plan. But keep in mind, that the older they get, the more of a financial investment it is - right from the start! So, if you've sunk your money into something, say, like an instrument, you'll be saying, "You're going to play that thing!" Just kidding. Rent before buying. :)

Will get over to your blog today to see your kitchen.

Anita said...

ANYA, nice surprise to get a visit from you and to know that you've been reading more of the blog!
I'm glad you think Hayley is a good musician. Coming fom you, the last teacher she had, that means a lot! :)

Trying to imagine what having kids is like is fun, isn't it. :)

JEN, Did you ever go back to ballet or dance when you were old enough to do it on your own?
Things that I think I missed out on as a child, I'm doing now, and I'd like to think that I'm having just as much fun, maybe even more. :)


Hilary said...

I allowed my kids to choose their activities. Both showed brief interest in piano but not enough to last more than a few months each. Eventually they both found their niche and excel at their true passions. One of them just happens to be music.. and he's a fine guitarist and keyboardist after all. :)

Anonymous said...

Well Im not here quite yet! But all the activities sound very tiring! You must have lots of energy! My mother inlaw (has 2 younger children) is queen of activities and just hearing about them makes me tired.

Thanks for the sweet comments! Oh and about the Nikon D40, my friend has it and she doesnt like it too much...the shutter speed can be a little slow, maybe its her I dont know! But I was looking it up online and see that the D3000 is only $100 more and I feel that it is fool proof to use and get great pictures. I had a difficult time trying to learn my D60. Thats just my opinion, Ive never tried working her camera though, so like I said, it may just be her! haha

Annie Z said...

Fantastic storytelling! And boy, do I have a lot to look forward to!