Watch for the Twinkle
Parents entertain the fantasy our children will enjoy the same activities that interest us. If you lettered in track in high school, you may be shopping for baby running shoes before your child can walk. If you spent your childhood playing in piano recitals, you have your little one listening to piano concertos on the nursery CD player as she drifts off to sleep at night.
You project ahead to programs in your community which will help your child develop this affinity you wish for him. Tot gym classes will get her ready for the gymnastics you’re sure she’ll love. Preschool music programs will pave the way for your budding virtuoso. You register your child sure this activity will become your family’s future focus.
And then one day, you visit friends whose child plays soccer. You watch your child running like the wind, investing all his energy into kicking that ball.
Later, sweaty and breathless, he asks if he can get a soccer ball of his own. And then you can’t help but see it: that twinkle in his eye that tells you about his real joy.
You’ve never seen that twinkle at tot gym or preschool music. Oh, he’s willing to go to them, all right, and even enjoys the children he meets there. But when he discovered soccer that afternoon at your friend’s house, he found something different. He found a passion of his own and realized his own capacity to devote all his energy toward pursuing it. And—most importantly—he had that twinkle in his eye.
So you may need to regroup at this point. Do you continue with the activity of your own parenting fantasies, or do you pursue the one that puts a twinkle in his eye?
It’s possible for a time to promote both activities. Many kids nurture a love for more than one activity. But ultimately, kids will only excel in an activity that motivates them personally.
Be on the lookout for that tell-tale twinkle in her eye, then add your support to your child’s own personally-chosen passion.