Tuesday, April 12, 2011

For Lack Of Trying.

I was in second or third grade and my sisters were taking Irish Step Dancing classes.  They wore pretty plaid dresses and cool shoes with laces up to their knees.  I wanted to do it too.

I took one class. I didn't start jumping and flicking my feet around expertly within minutes, so I cried the whole time.  Learning was going to be a long process, and not easy.

So I quit.  After one class.

In the fifth grade, I was allowed to pick an instrument to learn.  We had a beautiful old clarinet, so I chose that.  I learned the basics easily enough, and was competent enough to be asked to join the Tri Town Orchestra.

But after learning the basics, things got more complicated.  No longer easy.   And?   I never got to play the melody, and it bugged me.  I blew out what seemed like random low tones that to me had nothing to do with the songs I knew so well;  "Eye of The Tiger", "Theme from Superman", crap like that.

So I quit.  I never played in the Tri Town Orchestra.

I've never tried very hard to do anything. 

A couple years ago, I asked  Owen if he wanted to try a Karate class.  I showed him videos of kids in a class.  He couldn't wait to learn some superhero moves.

The first class, he sat on my lap vibrating with anxiety.  He was introduced to the class.  He taught them some signs.  He wouldn't have been the only kid with special needs there. He refused to join them in their punching and kicking exercises. The teacher gave him a Gi to take home and try on.

He ran around the house in his Gi all evening flailing spastically practicing his "Karate". 

The next week, he'd promised to get up and join the other kids.  He knew if he didn't, he'd have to return the Gi.

He sat on my lap.  More vibrating.  This time with crying; "I'm scared".  At the end of the class, he moped his way to the teacher, head hung in defeat, and returned the Gi. 

He quit.  And I let him.

Bea asked to take dance class.  I brought her to the studio and signed her up. I bought her a pink leotard, tights, skirt, shoes.  She twirled and pranced for weeks in anticipation of her first class. 

She was so damn cute in that get up I wanted to bite her butt.

The day arrived and all the Mommies shuffled their little jumping balls of pink into the studio. The Mommies sat down as the line of pink stretched the length of the room.

Except for Bea.  Who sat on my lap crying.  For the entire hour.  Ok.  Not the whole hour. I gave up after thirty minutes and dragged her out.

She refused to ever go back.  And I let her.

Bea's friend Mya signed up for soccer.  Bea asked if she could too.  So I did.  For weeks she's been talking about it.

The first class was this past Saturday.  She peppered me all morning;

"Time for soccer yet?  Can we go now?  Now?  NOW!??"

The field was bustling with dozens of kids and parents and coaches.  Ten groups of ten.  Bea's was the first group we found.  Her coach was Perry, an adorkable 22 year old Brit with a goofy smile and Harry Potter's voice.
All the kids took to him instantly.  Acting like whatever animal he told them too. Chasing him around.  Kicking balls at him.

Except for Bea.  Who clung to me crying; "I'm scared."

Yeah.  Harry Potter with the turned up nose, freckles, and heavy lisp was truly terrifying.

Hiding behind me, she wouldn't even watch the other kids. 

So I dragged her out of there, still crying.  And I threw her in the car.  And told her I wasn't going to get her a soccer ball of her own.

I made it as far as the entrance to the park, Bea still wailing.

"No.  You said you wanted to do it. I paid for you to play.  We're going back. You're going to at least try."

And we did.  We stood and watched.  And she cried. 

I joined the kids.  Jumped like a kangaroo, walked like a penguin, kicked the ball at Bea.

Perry and I tried all manner of bribery and trickery to no avail.

She stood her ground, feet planted firmly, arms crossed in stubborn defiance;


Which is what she might do next week, and the week after that, and the week after that.

Because I'm not letting her give up without even trying.


*Twitter Pigeon for Annabelle!*


  1. At least you get as far as joining. I don't even make it THAT far.

  2. For what its worth, I think you are doing a good thing.

    She needs to at least try.

  3. Dang, you're hardcore, G. I suppose she should at least try, right? My kid won't even consider signing up for something. It's always, "No, I don't think I want to."

  4. Finally! Another kid out there who cries on the damn side lines. I thought it was only LG. He won't do his big boy swim lessons. He gets in the pool (if they carry him in) and sobs the whole time. He'll do all the moves, but he cries THE WHOLE TIME. PB sits and watches. On my weeks, I walk out. No difference. I keep making him go, though. He has to do stuff with kids other than the ones he's known since birth and sees every day! Right? Or, I'm a sadistic bitch who likes to see her kids suffer. Meh. Could be. Can we roast that pigeon now?

  5. I've never been into organized things- dance classes, soccer teams, religions.
    Let's start a sit around and talk about the Grateful Dead while getting drunk club- we'd never quit that shit.

  6. Good for you!! Once she get's comfortable she might totally love it! We make the kids stick w/ two seasons and if they don't like it after that then they can call it quits. Of course, it's easy for me to have this rule b/c a)so far we've done dance w/ the girls and they've both adored it. b)Violet tried softball last year and loved it, so is doing it again this year. c) John and Sarah are trying soccer, the first team sport for both of them, and while Sarah is totally grooving, John is like, "are you farking kidding me you insane lady who used to love me?" And the thought of 2 seasons of me, dragging him around the field is . . . daunting. So, yeah me and my great parenting strategies/rules that I made BEFORE we encountered a problem. But I still think you're doing the right thing -- she'll never know what she loves unless she pushes herself a little. :) Good job, mom!

  7. My daughter cried at almost every swimming lesson for the first 2 years she went. We made her go as we said it was important to learn to swim, just like it was important to go to school and learn to read and write. She absolutely loves swimming now and can't wait to get the pool out this year. When she was 3 I took her to her first and only ballet lesson. She was SO excited and I took a photo of her in her leotard and tutu. We got there and she coralled all the other girls to skip in circles and giggle before the class started. Ten minutes into the class, she announced in a loud voice "This is boring, can we go home now?". Much sniggering from the other Mums, mortified silence from me. We left fairly quickly, never to return. Since then, I pretty much force my kids to give everything at least 6 weeks to decide on whether they want to continue, partly because I've paid for the first 6 weeks in advance and partly because kids don't ever give stuff a chance nowadays. You did the right thing. Give it a few weeks and Bea will LOVE soccer.

  8. Look at you going all Tiger Mother on Bea! As a former kid of Parents Who Didn't Let Their Kids Quit Anything that had Cost Them Their Hard-Earned Money to Join, I say good for you. I mean, I'm not scarred for life, and I can play the piano and the flute now, decades later, a hell of a lot better than I would've been able to had I been able to either skip practicing, quit or both when I'd wanted.

    The piano part still comes in handy to this day. The flute, not so much but I still pull it out and impress the kid with my ability to play some godawful kid song or another every now and again.

  9. Good for you. My eldest quit karate the week he was supposed to test for his first belt. We told him he had to go tell Sensei that he was quitting and he manned up and did it. He has played soccer for three years and last year was the first time we didn't have to drag him out of the house.

    There is nothing worse than paying and having your kids be all crazy when it finally gets there.

  10. My very own dead pigeon! It's like Christmas chime early : )

    I'm a quitter too. The younger kids are getting to the age where they are showing interest in various activities.

    Why can't they just sit around the house and watch tv, like normal kids?

    Actually I'm debating in separate classes or together. They are definitely Irish Twins.
    Dance, karate, knife throwing, I don't care as long as they don't quit.

    Guess that's up to me though, huh? Damn life lessons and my role in teaching them.

  11. I too am a seasoned quitter. Frankly I am shocked that I've managed to keep a blog going this long. I NEVER stick with shit.

    But. I hate that about myself. And I wish someone had made me see stuff through when I was a kid. So when my kid asks to sign up for something, he goes for the entire session. If he hates it, he doesn't sign up again, but he gives it a good try. I will never forget my eldest son's first shift in his first soccer game. He stood in the middle of the field and cried. All the other soccer moms were looking at me, but I just studied my not-so-manicured nails and refused to make eye contact. Sometimes they gotta figure this stuff out on their own...

    And also - I would be willing to bet a large sum of money that at the end, it is usually the parent who suffers more for the tears than the child does... :)

  12. Good for you! Sometimes you need to push them to make them look past their fears and see things for what they really are. Sprite was hesitant at first with dance classes, now she likes it, but sometimes it's still hard to shake her off my leg, almost a year later.

  13. Yeah, I'm pretty sure we can blame the activity angst on mom and dad somehow.


  14. I'm just happy I'm the only one that has kids that quit at things. We've bought them instruments they've BEGGED for, tried out kung fu and soccer. But they've bitched, moaned, whined and quit. I'm actually (not sure why) gonna pony up some money for football for this fall. *cross our fingers* the little booger hopefully LOVES it!!

  15. These are my kids and it drives me up the effing wall. I don't sign up for anything that isn't free now. There's free yoga at he JCC so my son takes that and loves it and goes every week and never cries and all his chakras are lined up. I'm sure if it cost money and had required $20 footwear, he would beg me not to go. He's old enough to learn an instrument but I can already see the trajectory. Unless someone is offering free piano lessons. It's hard to know when to push and when to back off. Easier when it's free.

  16. My epically uncoordinated kid's been at karate for more than 2 years now, thanks to amazing sensei/former sped teacher who coaxes every crying, whining, hiding behind mom's legs child into the room and wins them over. But we signed her up for lacrosse (what the hell were we thinking?) and now silently pray for rain twice a week because we also adhere to a we paid/you go rule. Myself, I went to one Brownie meeting and quit; I took one typing class and quit after 30 minutes of "jkjkjkjkjkjk".

  17. I think it is good of you to bring her every week.

    We had that experience with swimming lessons. The first class Delia sat on my lap and refused to go in the water, the second class she refused to even go into the pool area and sobbed in the locker room, the third class she was in the water for half the class, and by the fourth class she was having a blast. It was worth it.

  18. Oh, this scares the ever-living shit out of me.

    There's a part where, as a parent, you need to let your kids quit, let them fail (yet, still be supportive). I was never on the same page with my own parents through all of this. But, I'll admit that I had an independent streak that, once I had the opportunity to do something and not have to be with my parents? I was gone. Sports, clubs, etc, didn't matter.

    Major, major kudos for having Owen turn back in the Gi. It at least allowed him to say "this is the consequence - I need to fess up to Sensei and admit to myself that I'm quitting." Would you consider heading back if he were to show interest again, because, with the way you describe your son, he'd kick-ass with martial arts.

    Let us know how the battle with Bea works out.

  19. Somehow? In my crazy little brain? I can picture you as a step dancer. It's hot. And there's some flailing, but come on - how fun would that be?Hit Bea in the head w/ the ball a few times. She'll toughen up. 

  20. my mom let me quit everything I signed up for. except softball. b/c she'd bought the mitt. I later was clocked in the nose with the ball and still have a bump to prove it. no moral here, just rambling.

  21. p.s. M. quit karate too. I have no problem with this as it has. no. end. monetarily or season-wise.

  22. "Hit Bea in the head w/ the ball a few times, she'll toughen up." Spoken like the mom of boys! Gotta love MK.

    I didn't have a parent that forced me to do anything. I got to scan the summer schedule for activities and then beg Mom to let me go.

    I don't know what I'll do if Maddy begs for something then pulls a Owen/Bea. So I'll just wait for a follow up from you.

    And yeah, I want to see you flail and kick a little Irish Jig. HEE!

  23. Oh I feel your pain on this one. There is no backing down once the line has been drawn in the sand. Good luck!!!

  24. I quit lots of things as a kid, but I was never allowed to quit right away. I have a solitary season each of ballet, highland dance, cello, soccer, and probably a couple of other things I've forgotten. I think it makes me well-rounded.

    Or that could be all the cake.

  25. Ugh. I dunno. Yes, time is finite and you don't want to spend it forcing your kids to do stuff they hate.

    But yes, they have to learn they hate it first. By actually trying it.

    My Owen is okay with tball so far, but I like your consequences (giving back the gi,etc) when the time inevitably comes that he wants to quit.

  26. This parenting stuff is hard work and you haven't quit that! I'm more of a just don't join in the first place kind of gal in fear of my mom who would try to force me to go. But I turned out alright? She'll survive I think.

  27. Ahh, Tulp.

    It is so hard to be a parent.

    I tell that to our 3 all the time.

    We make them finish what they start.

    A friend of mine told me this was mental cruelty.

    I said, "hey, no one ever made me finish something, and I quit every time it got too hard... I STILL DO...so, yeah, no, they're not going to be like me."


  28. Not that you asked for my opinion or anything, but I think you're doing the right thing. But you might need to start carrying a flask to soccer practice.

  29. I have no idea what we will do in this situation some day. My parents MADE me try things and I hated them all. Hated. And resented my parents for making me do things I didn't want to do.

    My husband's parents made him try things and it turned out he LOVED many of them after he tried.

    such different experiences.

    I can only hope Eddie will WANT to try. Is that too much to ask? Wait...I already know the answer to that.


  30. I'm poor, so if I pay for my kid to participate in an activity, she's going to get my money's worth! We're on a break from stuff right now, but soccer starts up at the end of the month and I'm hoping hoping hoping she loves it and I don't have to drag her there every week.

  31. Aw that's a tough one. The only way you'll know if you did the right thing is if she takes to it over the next couple of games...then you will feel all validated and shit. Not sure how long I could put up with the kicking and screaming. Yeah, I'm a quitter.


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