Sunday, September 08, 2013

Tumble We

Yesterday marked the first class at Philadelphia Gymnastics Center, a bona fide gymnast factory in Conshohocken.  There were some early jitters - Amy and I were overwhelmed at all of the other put-together suburbanites, and Jada got scared because everything on the gym floor seemed so big and daunting - but eventually we settled in.  Jada and Aaron had the time of their lives (and are pretty good, relative to their peers), Amy got a front row seat in the observation room and got a little misty-eyed seeing her babies doing grown-up stuff, and I had my nose in a good book as always.

On the car ride home, Amy and I tried to straddle a fine line in our message to the kids.  It went something like this.  On the one hand, we're not going to push them beyond how far they want to go with this; if they're good but not interested, we're not going to harangue or guilt them into getting more into this than they want to.  On the other hand, we wanted them to know they don't need to be afraid of being really good at something, and that there can be a lot of fun in being the best, and that it took a lot of effort and pushing. 

It's what we hope for our kids in general, I guess.  We're not going to live our lives vicariously through their talents and push them into miserable existences.  But neither are we going to shy away from putting them in situations where, with hard work and commitment, they can become world-beaters at something and experience the thrill and satisfaction of getting there. 

You see a lot of both extremes, of course.  And we are guilty of both at times, but hopefully not without thoughtful consideration.  The kids know where I am going to push them no matter what they want (example: Aaron and his reading).  And they also know there's nothing sacred about gymnastics (or ballet or swimming or baseball, for that matter) such that they absolutely have to do it no matter what.  (Athough piano may be an "Asian parent" loophole.)  That's our approach so far; hopefully it'll do our kids good.
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