Watching the Olympics last month made me think a lot about parenting. Who doesn't love the moment when someone wins a medal and immediately runs to their mom? What mom doesn't think, even for just a moment, about how amazing that must be for the mother watching her baby win glory, in front of the whole world?
I always love the back story montages full of grainy photographs of the athletes as wee babes strapped into skates and skis. It made me think about all the activities we could be pushing Z into right about now. Now that she's almost four, we could be enrolling her in soccer, basketball, ballet (done!), gymnastics, horseback riding (we live in BIG TIME horse country), t-ball, tennis, swimming, karate, etc. etc. etc. Kids her age are already learning an instrument, another language, underwater basketweaving I'M SO SURE.
I feel just a teeny bit of pressure and responsibility, as if this is the critical age for her to start something. At this age, we could suggest/cajole/bribe for her participation in any number of somethings. And I have the sense that if she doesn't start now or soon and wants to pick it up at the ripe old age of 8 or so, she'll be left behind.
As with most things in parenting, I'm struggling to find a balance. I want to expose her to many different things so that she can discover what really lights her up inside. I want her to be well-rounded and adventurous. I want her to feel prepared and capable, like she can jump into a playground game of.... anything.
I don't want her to get left behind, in anything.
But I also want her to have quiet days with lots of time for open-ended play. I want her to know that she doesn't have to perform or strive or win for our approval and love. I want her to discover things on her own, when she's interested and ready.
More than anything, I want her to have a relaxed childhood.
I have a feeling there are no Olympics in our future. And I'm so, so, SO fine with that.