I grew up in a classically intense, achievement driven Asian household, yet I haven’t gone the tiger mom route. Instead, probably driven by Laurel’s shyness plus a few really crappy experiences where Laurel has said she wanted classes or camp then kicked and screamed the rest of the way, I’ve simply followed her lead. I always put the offers out there when the activity flyers come home in her school folder, but I never expect her to say yes.
But that doesn’t mean I haven’t wanted Laurel to try and experiment with things -- in fact, inside I have ached for it. Yes, ached. Because when I was a kid I begged for classes and camps and the answer was always no (my issue, I know). Because once I did get around to violin lessons it was so solitary and I always dreamed of being part of a team (again, my issue, I know). Because Laurel has perfectionist tendencies and I don’t want her to be paralyzed by perfection -- I want her to explore and feel free to make mistakes. And because our not pushing her to take classes also means she gets frustrated when she can't keep up with her peers.
I’ve definitely had moments in the past -– for example, as I’ve watched Laurel cling to the side of a pool or ice rink while her friends swam or skated away -– where I’ve questioned our approach. But over the last few months, almost magically, we’ve been rewarded for waiting, for listening to her, for not pushing when clearly we'd all be miserable. Laurel seems to have grown and settled into her body and all of a sudden is able to do things. Like swimming and jumping off the edge of pools into the water. Like gliding around on the ice (we went to a summer birthday party at an ice rink last month) with bizarre ease after gingerly shuffling her way through a few lessons and giving up on skating last winter. And like agreeing to sign up for soccer...a huge deal given that it's a team sport with lots of people watching, with one practice + one game per week for 8 weeks.
This past Saturday was Laurel’s first soccer game. It was a perfect day and it was amazing to watch Laurel out there. She looked so stinkin' cute in her uniform. She seemed so confident and comfortable and happy. I honestly never imagined we’d ever watch her play soccer, she’s been so resistant to organized sports.
It was so worth the wait. She was running free -- physically and emotionally it seems. I felt so grateful.