Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I recently read a blog post called Dabbling, Digging Deep, and Quitting by Lyla Wolfenstein. I commented on the post sharing how we handle things with Princess. The next day Lyla asked for readers' stories because she was asked to expand the post into an article for Life Learning Magazine. I contacted Lyla, elaborated on what we do, how things were handled when I was a child and how it has affected me as an adult. I don't normally do very long posts. This is a long one. I hope you will read it.

I guess that it is my own experience that has led me to be the way I am with Princess. Fortunately, the Lizard King is almost always on the same page as I am.
When I was a child I was forced to take swimming lessons, piano lessons and to go to sleep-away camp. I hated them all, but was never given a choice. In the beginning, I wanted to take swim lessons and piano lessons. After a time, I changed my mind...except that I wasn't allowed to change my mind. Swimming lessons were torture. I hated them and cried every weekend when I was forced to go. I often got myself so worked up I would vomit. I was finally allowed to stop when in my 4th or 5th year of swimming I got really sick with scarlet fever. I had missed so many lessons and fell so far behind in my swimming, catching up was beyond challenging. Finally, my parents let me stop.
We got a piano when I was young. I wanted to learn how to play, so my parents hired a piano teacher. I had a different vision of the songs I would play. I hated playing Mary Had a Little Lamb and practicing scales. But as things were back then, there was only one way to learn and I hated that way. I begged to quit (just like swimming) but I wasn't allowed. After years, my parents finally gave in.
Sleep-away camp was a whole other story. I never wanted to go. I was and am very shy and introverted. The first year I cried everyday and tried to figure out a way to get home. The second year I only cried on drop off day and at the end of visiting day. I spent the other days hiding in the woods and avoiding people as best I could. I was supposed to love it because my mother had gone to the same camp when she was a kid and loved it. I hated every moment I was there. I was grateful that I wasn't forced to go a third year. I was heartbroken when my little sister was forced to go when she was old enough. She hated it too.
I am now 46 years old. How do I feel about swimming and piano and sleeping away from home?
I hate to swim, I hate the water. The only reason I go into a pool now is for Princess and even that is hard. When she was two, we signed up for parent/child swim lessons. We made it to three lessons before I had a panic attack and had to stop. I couldn't go back. I waited until she was older and able to take lessons without me in the pool. Lessons were her choice. Swimming is her choice. She loves the water.

I don't hate the piano. In fact, I wish I could play...sort of. The thing is, if it were that important to me I would learn now. I can still read music, so it wouldn't be like starting from scratch, but I guess it just isn't that important or exciting to me. Hmmm...maybe I really don't like the piano. *shrug* 

Sleeping away from home is something I never thought about. I really don't like it. I don't care for hotels or sleeping at other people's houses. Going with my family makes it okay and I do enjoy vacations. I guess the big part for me is having my family with me.  I had a crappy childhood, lots of abuse, so I'm not sure why I missed my family so much or why I wanted to be home so much, but I did.

Now I am the mom. Princess is very attached and is hesitant to go places without me. I have honored that and I have seen great leaps in her confidence recently. We have dropped her off at Village with her best friend for a parents night out. My best friend, her husband and kids took Princess out to a movie one night. We've dropped her off at a friends house once or twice. I feel that she is okay with that because she has been allowed to do it in her own time. She's not ready to sleep over at a friends yet, but I know that she will let me know when she's ready. It's interesting to see the differences.
Princess wants to act. She takes a drama class at Village Home, but wanted to do more. She hopes to be able to do some professional acting one day. She also wants me in the room with her. We talked about the Oregon Children’s Theater acting classes and how they don't allow parents in the room. She told me she was ready for it. And she was, until the day before class. 
We went together and they let me stay in the room the first day, but said that after that I'd have to be outside. Princess was not comfortable with that and decided that she wanted to drop the class. There are no refunds. We lost the money and LK and I really don't care about that. Please don't think that we are wealthy and have money to throw around. That certainly is not true. We feel that Princess’ feelings are more important. We support her and know that she will do things in her own time. She knows that she has the freedom to try things and the freedom to follow her feelings and her heart . . . her truth.
For her 7th birthday, Princess wanted a set of drums. We got them for her and a referral for a drum teacher. He is right near Village, which is great for us! When we first started, I was a little worried. Her teacher seemed to be assigning an awful lot of work. After two weeks, I called him to tell him that I thought we should only go every other week. He asked why and I explained my concerns about too much work to do in a week. He set my mind at ease. He is more interested in her loving to play than practicing to play perfectly. He doesn't want her to be bored so he keeps moving ahead as she displays the ability, but she is free to practice as much or as little as she wants. 
Princess is doing really well and her teacher is very impressed with her progress. The thing is, she loves her drum lessons and she loves to play. Still. I believe that it is because she is not forced to practice. She plays when she wants to play. She rarely practices. If one day she decides she wants to practice more, great! If one day she decides she wants to quit, that is perfectly fine with us. We want her to follow her passions, no matter how short lived or long lasting they are.


  1. Well written Shady, and such a strong reminder that just because we did something, it will not automatically be the same for our kids - be it a good or bad experience. I love how you are intent on letting Princess be who she is.

  2. Thank you Cate. I discovered some interesting things about myself that I hadn't realized, while writing this post. I am intent on giving Princess a very different childhood than I had.

  3. I think it's great that you follow her lead. We had a piano when I was a kid, but my mom never could have afforded lessons for me. I so wish I would have been able to learn when I was younger. I'd love to learn now, but I don't have the time or the funds for lessons, much less a piano!

    Nice post!

  4. Thanks, Rachel. Perhaps one day the time and opportunity will come for you to learn to play the piano. It could happen!

  5. I bet she rocks out on the drums. :)

  6. Oh she does! I'll have to post a video one day.

  7. That was a great read Shady. Thanks for sharing so much of your experience. I can relate to a lot of it.

    Mostly the following...

    "We support her and know that she will do things in her own time. She knows that she has the freedom to try things and the freedom to follow her feelings and her heart . . . her truth."

    So beautifully expressed and exactly how we approach our parenting.


  8. Thank you, Sheri. Good for you!! Isn't it amazing how we can break the cycle if we choose to. I do things so very differently from the way my parents did. It is a good thing.

  9. This is a lovely post. The respect and honoring of her feelings is worth so much.

  10. Thank you Amber! And thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. This was an important post for me and I hope it helps people out there to know that it's okay for our kids (and even ourselves) to stop doing something that isn't right for us. Respect and honor -- good words.