Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Deep thoughts with Alice

We ended up taking Gracie out of the classes we had planned for the summer. Mainly it's because Gracie just does not do pressure or competition well. Like not at all. Her personality is the perfect storm of competitive and perfectionist. When those two things don't line up you are gonna have a hurricane. We went to the Play with a Purpose class once and that was just a disaster. Gracie was the youngest of that group and unfortunately not many of the kids were very friendly. Gracie just does not understand when kids are not friendly. She walks up to people and introduces her self and asks kids if they want to go play. For whatever reason the kids in that group looked at her like she had two heads and would not speak to her. It was weird. It made her really uncomfortable and therefore she lost her confidence.

Sidenote: It's situations like this that really make me feel it is essential to be with my kids when they participate in things and why home schooling is the plan. I feel it is my job as a parent to observe and help and protect them in social situations. She's only 4. I could see her trying, I could see her pain when she was rejected. In a group situation all her feelings, all those little signs she was giving off that told me this wasn't working would never have been observed. In fact, the teacher that was in charge of the group probably would have told me she was quiet and well-behaved. The problem with that is she wasn't being quiet because it is her nature, she was quiet because she was hurting. I was a teacher. I speak from experience and I shutter at all the needs the kids I was in charge of probably had that I was far too busy to notice. Keeping the group under control is the main objective of most childrens programs, meeting their emotional needs is rarely the goal. I now have a visceral reaction to watching kids be herded around in groups. I honestly don't think it's best for them and in turn for society as a whole. Take that as you will, it's just my own observation.

Anyway, back to the topic.....because she lost her confidence she started freaking out about not being good enough and it resulted in major meltdown. She felt the pressure of competition and it did not bode well. She told me she didn't want to go again and I was completely fine with it. I also realized at that moment that most likely we would encounter the same situation with karate, there would be a lot of pressure to perform, she would be at the very bottom of the age group that would be in the class (meaning she would be in class with 6 year olds) and I knew that if she couldn't keep up it would just frustrate her way more than it would be worth.

I've been reading a lot about kids and competition and all that and I'm deciding that avoiding competition as long as humanly possible is probably the best course of action!! Unfortunately we live in a highly competitive society and it is inevitable that the kids will have to deal with it at some point. The problem I see is how much our society equates worth to performance. If you perform well you are valuable but if you fail at competition you are not. I mean, it's much deeper than that but that's the basic premise. It leads to people reaching for approval so badly that if they can't find approval in one group they find it in another. This is where kids and teens especially get into trouble. If they can't get approval, if they aren't valued, if they don't think they are good enough in their parents eyes they will go looking for that approval somewhere. Usually among their friends and usually by doing things that prove harmful.

As a parent I am trying to work out how to convey to my kids that no matter what, I am there. No matter what, I love them. They don't need to work to get my approval. They have it. They will always have it. I will always be there. This is important to me because my childhood (and even still actually) involved a lot of doing what I was told because I wouldn't be accepted otherwise. That was made clear through punishments and threats. And it was really a bad deal because it made me ignore a lot of my curiosities and the things I wanted to do, try, or learn about because they fell on the side of life that was labeled as "bad". Now that I know those things weren't bad at all I find myself wanting to ensure that my kids can pursue whatever they want to with my full support. I don't want them wondering "what if" when they are 33.

You know that song, I Hope You Dance? I bought one of those cheesy little gift books that has the word of that song with pictures and a complimentary single of the song a long time ago, for Gracie for her first Christmas. Silly as it is I really want her to know that I want her to go for and do whatever it is she wants to. I will be there to support her through it, come hell and high water, no matter what "place" she finishes in. She's my daughter and that's good enough.

I Hope You Dance

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake
But it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Reconsider
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
Dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
I hope you dance
(Where those years have gone)

(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

1 comment:

felicia said...

Oh, thank you so much for posting this. Those lyrics were deeply meaningful for me right now. I'm feeling so insecure and nervous about moving all of a sudden, and it's so easy to just say, "nevermind, it's too hard, we'll stay right here."

At the same time, I don't want to be afraid and I want to show my son that it's okay to do things that scare you because if you don't take a chance on life, you may miss something wonderful.

But I'm scared. I'm scared we will run into problems, or that Tim won't find a job or that I will just miss my friends too much, or worse that I won't make new friends when we move.

And really, what I need to do is shut up and dance. Thanks for reminding me of that. :)

You're a good friend, and I'm lucky to have you in my life.