Sitting with my new (purple and oh so cute) yearly planner, pencil in hand, I sat down to do a pretty regular task in my life…plan out my kids’ calendars. 9:00 a.m. – Swimming lessons, for H; 10:00 a.m. swimming lessons for J. Baseball practice 6:00 p.m. H, Dance at 4:00 for J.
But this year my normally mundane task of scheduling my children’s summers took on a whole new adventure…
Yep, things just got REAL.
I’ve blogged about this before, but my daughter J is a competitive dancer. This past year was her first year of competition. She had 2 (adorable and proud to admit award winning) dances. She dances Mondays and Wednesdays and had to practice every now and then on a weekend. It was fine, she LOVED it, and her love of dancing truly became her passion.The competition season just finished and now J has been moved up to Home Team at her dance studio. She was super excited, especially at the prospect of being able to do duets and solos.
Before a blink of my eye, my daughter’s “dance card” went from 2 dances to 7, yep, 7! 1 Jazz group, 1 Lyrical group, 1 Tap group, 1 Hip Hop group, 1 Production number, 1 Duet, and 1 Solo. A 7 year old with 7 dances…is that even possible??
I’ve asked my daughter this question 1000 times the past few weeks. And I have to admire her ability to debate her position. When I told her that she had to give up a dance because it was too much she quickly responded: “Mom I can remember them…want me to show you the dance from last year?? How about 2 years ago???”.
But the number of dances is not the only concern. There are additional classes that being part of the Home Team requires – classes with strict attendance policies. Monday – Jazz, Lyrical, and Ballet; Wednesday – Tap; and Thursday is choreography night at the studio and therefore her time to learn 5 of her dances. The other two (her solo and duet) are to be learned on her “free time” on the weekends. Well, I guess not free time since she is taking Leaps and Turns on Saturday. My head hurts again just thinking about all of this.
I’ve sat down long and hard these past couple of weeks and wondered how much is too much? When does the Mom who is supposed to know best, beat out the Daughter who wants to dance? It’s such a fine line between keeping her balanced, and stifling her passion.
I guess the real problem is that I don’t know what’s best. J is my first child, I’ve never done this. I was never a dancer, I have no idea what this entails. I’ve see her work ethic, I’ve watched her passion, no matter what has been thrown at her, she has never complained, not once. So, is it right to tell this girl who knows what she wants to do that she can’t do something just because her Mom is afraid?
And of course the search for advice did not help at all – it was split pretty much equal between the “Oh you are crazy for letting her do this!” to “You have to let her do this Mandi”.
But then there’s the reality of the fact that she is only 7 and there are only so many hours of the day. I literally almost broke my pencil when I wrote down her Choreography Week in the summer where she has to be at the Dance Studio from 2:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. one day that week, the day before her 7th birthday no less.
But then just when I’m about to listen to the overly protective mother voice inside my head – I look at my daughter and listen to her. She wants to do all these dances, well to use her words, she’ll “die” if she has to give one up. She lights up when she hits the stage, she loves every minute of dancing. She doesn’t do any other activities or sports – she knows where her heart belongs.
So I gave in, and got excited. Let’s do this. But saying something is nothing like doing it and so this week I have been faced with the reality of what all of this means as class registration has taken place. Why does something that sounds okay, look horrifying when you write it down?
Her summer is now booked – between swim lessons and dance, she’s got a full plate. After a week of a lot of thinking about it, venting with friends, and annoying my husband to no end with hours of back and forth on this, we registered for dance classes and finalized her schedule. I decided to go with the flow and let her try to do 7 dances. I decided its much better to be scared to do something, then regret that I never let her try.
So how much is too much? How do you balance your kids schedule? When is your rule of thumb on when to say no?Mandi