Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sitting Back and Letting Your Kids Discover Their Own Passions

I have wanted to learn how to knit for over twenty years. I tried teaching myself using books and the internet, but I just couldn't get it.  So I finally shelled out $50 for a few knitting classes and supplies. I was really excited to learn a new skill and I already imagined myself knitting little baby things for my sister's new baby due next month.

My teacher was excellent and I learned the basics and started knitting in the evenings while watching the news.  I got to the point where I understood why my knitting had holes and lumps and was improving (less holes and lumps). The classes were a success and I just needed more practice, lots more practice.

But now I am ready to move on to something new.  Knitting: Been there done that. At least for now.  Even though I am in awe of homemade knitted things, I am already bored of the act of knitting...  I would rather read a good book and I found out that it is impossible for me to read and knit at the same time.

Rita, jack of many trades, master of none.

I have been this way since I was a kid.  I would grasp on a new project with complete and utter concentration and abandon, get good enough to almost be average-skilled, and then decide I was ready to move on to something new.  I had no trouble keeping jobs, but I changed my hobbies as often as I changed the sheets on my bed.

Yet for some reason I expected my kids to be different.

Duke expressed an interest in playing the piano a few years ago and I excitedly put him in piano lessons. One year later he was throughly enjoying the weekly 30 minute lessons, but bored to tears with practicing once we got home. I had to beg him to play during the week. But I had already invested time and money on this endeavor so I decided he would have to "soldier on".

Another year of lessons went by and one day as I gently reminded him to practice he burst into tears. He was over playing piano. In fact, he had checked out a year ago and was just hanging on because I made him.  He now hated the piano.

I really felt horrible when I realized what an idiot I had been and I called his teacher and explained the situation. His teacher is a lovely woman, and she told me that his behavior was normal and he needed to learn to stick with things.  I agreed with her, but I just wanted him to learn how to play for his own pleasure. And that pleasure was long gone.

So no more piano lessons and he didn't touch the piano in over a year.  Then a few months ago he picked up one of my childhood piano lesson books and started playing. I was excited and asked if he wanted lessons, but he said he preferred learning piano on his own.

He spent a few weeks practicing daily until he could play "When the Saints Come Marching In" flawlessly and then moved on to new adventures. Sigh.  Now I know how my mother must have felt raising me.

I know many families spend their weekends shuttling their kids to one thing after another because one point in time their children expressed an interest in that hobby.  But sometimes that interest might just be a fleeting one and not worth dedicating your family weekends "to the cause".  Kids need a guilt-free escape route just in case they change their mind and want to try something new.

Duke loves to play baseball but he couldn't get the neighborhood boys interested in playing with him as most of them prefer football.  And his brother Imp is not sporty and would rather watch the kids play.

I reluctantly asked Duke if he wanted for me to put him in baseball (I find sitting on the sidelines in the hot and humid Texas sun watching kids play sports as much fun as going to the dentist) and he expressed some interest.  But before I had time to investigate he found out that two of the younger neighborhood boys love baseball and now, with Imp expressing some interest, they have their own tiny team.

They aren't very good so they make up crazy rules so they can bat longer, like "three strikes you are out, but you can't walk on foul balls", and "five strikes before you are out".  They know the real rules, but they are playing for fun and they are getting so much better.  I call their "team" the "Charlie  Browns".

Last month Imp told me he wanted an archery set for his birthday because he thought it would be fun. But before I had time to read reviews and order one, he ran up to me and showed off his own homemade bow and arrows.

He used bamboo skewers, duct tape, paper, and string to create his custom archery set and that thing was incredibly accurate and quite dangerous.  We went out to the greenbelt area and he and his brother shot arrows until his bow fell apart.

They had a great time, but they were both ready to move on to something new.  So no worries of purchasing an archery set or classes at this time.

I am slowly learning not to hand over hobbies to my boys on a "silver platter" but rather let them follow their own passions.  If they really want to do it, they will find a way.  They might need some help from me at times, but I try not to jump in unless I think they really need me.

I have always been a self-motivated, passionate learner and I hope my boys turn out to be the same way.  I love what I do right now and I know that they will find their own pathway without me having to micromanage every part of their lives.

One of these days I might be one of those parents spending my weekends and my money shuttling the boys all over the place so they can live out their dreams.  But right now they are completely satisfied exploring their passions on their own and playing with their neighborhood friends.  Life is good for this lazy but passionate mom.  ;-)

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1 comment:

  1. "I am slowly learning not to hand over hobbies to my boys...but rather let them follow their own passions. If they really want to do it, they will find a way."

    Sage advice for any parent. Thanks for sharing Rita.

    Lisa D.