Got No Class, Got No Clue

>> Thursday, May 7, 2009

Soccer, kung fu, or gymnastics? Art, piano, or dance? Fencing?

I want to enroll Elizabeth in some sort of class, but it's just not going well. I'm not sure if the problem is me... OK, it is me. Take ME out of the equation and the "problem" magically disappears. Lizzy is just not interested in joining a team or taking a class, and Michael isn't keen to sign her up (and thus spend money) for a class she won't enjoy or may not participate in fully.

He has a point. We enrolled her in soccer last year, and while most kids ran up and down the field kicking their balls, Lizzy stopped to examine a flower. When the kids stood in "ready position" (standing in line with one foot atop their soccer balls), she sat on her ball at the end of the line. While other kids weaved their balls around little orange traffic cones, Lizzy picked up a cone, turned it upside, placed her soccer ball on top of it, and pretended to lick it like an ice cream cone. That is Lizzy in a cute little nut shell... and that is the reason we are hesitant to sign her up for another class.

But I want her to take a class. Why?! Why do I have this notion obsession that Elizabeth has to participate in some sort of organized activity? I need to sort this out because I'm fighting an uphill battle and I'm not sure if it's worth it. Here are my thoughts:

1. Young children are very receptive to new skills and concepts. I'm afraid that if I don't enroll her in some kind of activity now, we will have missed a valuable window of opportunity.

2. Sports would be a good way for her to stay healthy and learn discipline. Plus, I hate to exercise, and if she developed the "exercise habit" now, all the better for her later in life.

3. I want her to learn music because I regret that I can't read music or play an instrument. People who know about music seem to appreciate it more -- plus, they're fun at parties.

4. I want her to have a "niche", a "thing". I want her to have something I can point to and say, "Aha! That's who she is!" But she's all over the place. She likes art most of the time, but then she stops for a while. She likes super heroes and kung fu, but she won't take a martial arts class because she "knows it already." She says she wants to play soccer, but then she licks her soccer ball like an ice cream cone.

Who is this kid?!

OK, fine. I get it. Psychoanalysis complete. We're back to me, again, aren't we.

In many ways Samantha is easy. She likes order and control. She likes to contribute to family chores. She likes ballet and tap. She likes potty jokes. She likes to get angry. Now THIS is a kid I can wrap my brain around. It's not because we have things in common, it's because I have a handle on her desires and needs (at least I think I do). 

But Lizzy? She's a puzzle. Her interests flow like water from place to place. Occasionally her ideas form eddies... she'll circle around the notion of insects, for example. She'll collect beetle wings, read bug books, trap cockroaches in bug habitats (yes)... But then, as if some unseen rocks shifted beneath the surface of the water, her ideas travel elsewhere. Sometimes her currents flow too swiftly for me, and I just can't keep up.

I want to know her so I can guide her, enrich her life, and point her in the right direction. But sometimes I feel like I'm parenting blind.

Wait just a second... I had a thought. Am I the parent who asks her kid about Hannah Montana when she's already moved on to the Sex Pistols? (I know, I know -- my references are pretty lame... just like me!) If only Lizzy had a Google Map of her interests. I'd type in her "address" and then place the little mom at "street view" to see what's happening at Lizzy's Place. Oh look -- there's a clown... she's putting on makeup... she's telling jokes... she wants to be a clown! Thanks, Google Parent!

Besides not being able to keep up with her interests, I'm also worried that she'll be like me. Yes, me -- aimless and still not certain what she wants to do with her life at 38 years of age. Of course I want my family -- that's a certainty. But I still lack a certain passion and drive which I imagine other people find so satisfying. I want Elizabeth to have passion. I want her to have an anchor, a safety-net-sense of who she is that will comfort her when her life shifts unpredictably. I never felt like I had that special thing in my life -- that something I can point to and say, "OK, I don't fit in with my school mates, I'm bad at history, but at least I really love This Thing. No matter what shit I'm going through, I'm really good at This Thing."

I imagine This Thing has magical powers. It dampens pain. It enhances joy. It alleviates deeper layers of sadness. I want her passion to be clear and defined. I want it to point to some kind of future. I want it to keep her away from drugs, to pay the bills, and do the laundry. Really, that's not too much to ask, is it?

But here's another thought. (Give me a second... I'm really stretching my mental mother muscles... hope I don't pull something...) Of course it's possible (just possible) that maybe her passion (Her Thing) is freedom. Freedom to explore. Freedom to experiment. Freedom to follow her dreams wherever they take her. Freedom to change her mind from one interest to the next, flitting from flower to flower like a busy little bee.

Yes, I think it's possible.

Nevertheless, a nice T-Ball class wouldn't do any harm, now would it?


Rima May 8, 2009 at 12:28 PM  

Wait a minute! Your "Thing" isn't writing gorgeous, witty, entertaining prose? Because I thought for sure it was!

mimi of 'sexagenarian and the city' May 9, 2009 at 3:02 PM  

sounds as if she might enjoy an art class....! i love the ice-cream cone thing. great kid: imagination can't be taught.

Michele May 21, 2009 at 2:21 PM  

Melissa, we are so much alike. I've thought for the last so many years that I have no direction and passion because my parents just didn't know how guide me or give me any direction. I so want to give my daughter that direction but she's so all over the board. We do take her to a Little Gym class once per week and she really loves it but I'm not sure what it's really teaching her. Hang in there ... we WILL figure this all out, won't we?

Anonymous,  July 31, 2009 at 3:22 AM  

Dear C&F,
You do write lovely, caring mom thoughts. But, Liz is 5 years old. Yo do get to it at the end of the blog...freedom may be her thing.

Everything you have said about having something that one is really good at and it gives one focus, that is right on the mark. I was a coach for a soccer team of 6 year old girls and it was a panic. Many of them did just what Liz did...I just loved it all. Some Kids just need the space to let their imaginations roam.

Anyway, teach her how to write like you. When she get older, she will certainly appreciate these blog remarks as caring, wise and funny.

Anonymous,  August 10, 2009 at 1:45 PM  

Write more.

Funny Guy

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