March 28, 2011
I am a big quitter, and I come from a long line of quitters. My whole family is that way, we get excited to start something, but rarely do we actually finish or go through with it. We always have the best excuses to quit something, not only does it make sense for us to quit something, but we are so convincing that others around us can’t help but sympathize with us, and truly understand why we quit, even if it is a lame excuse.
We turn others into quitters! That’s what I was thinking about recently as my youngest told me he no longer wants to play baseball. Normally, it wouldn’t bother me so much. I am not the type of Mom that pushes or forces her kids to do things that they don’t want to do. Its not my way of ‘parenting’. If the child doesn’t enjoy something he is doing, why push him to continue to do it? I can picture it now, my son at thirty five years old, sitting across from a therapist blaming his gambling addiction on me forcing him to play baseball, when all he wanted to do was stay home and color.
So as he continued to plead with me to let him skip baseball, I started to worry that my “Quitter” gene was passed down to him. It didn’t scare me, it made me feel bad for all the money I have spent on baseball already. Then I envisioned all the other sports and activities I have my kids signed up for, and wondered how much more money I will lose. He was so convincing in his reasoning of why he needed to skip baseball that I finally gave in. Just as he went back to bed, I began picturing him as an adult going through Medical school, only to quit during his second year due to too much stress and irritable bowl syndrome. As panic swept over me about our passed down “Quitter” gene, I ran back into his room and made him get ready for baseball. Yes, I realize it was a bit of overreaction on my part, but I was determined to kick that gene right our of him!
We actually made it to all of their events and activities that week, and I was feeling pretty good about myself and my kids’ determination with finishing something for once. That was the same day that I stood next to another Mom at school, who turned to her kids and asked if they wanted to skip gymnastics that day! I was filled with joy, guilt, and amazement that I was not the only Mom to let her kids skip activities just to have a quiet, relaxing day at home. I had to talk to her, and thank her for making me feel better about my own psychosis. It turns out, she regularly lets her kids stay home from school or sports when they seem too tired or stressed. A thought ran through my mind: why sign them up for all the sports and activities on the first place? Why not just let them do one sport at a time, instead of three? Why do so many American families insist on driving their kids all over town to various activities, forcing them to be dead exhausted at the end of the day, but still having to finish their homework into the wee hours of the night? Why not let kids be kids? As my Russian/Israeli friend stated: “All you Americans are way too busy, way too tired, and way too stupid. You are letting life go right past you while you are sitting in your Minivans, driving to yet another activity that is pointless! Just stay home, and read some Pushkin to your kids.” Couldn’t agree with her more.
I walked away from that Mother feeling better and better about my decisions to let my kids go at their own pace, and immediately announced that today we are not going to guitar lesson, or gymnastics lesson or anywhere else! We were going to get into our jammies at three in the afternoon, have ice cream, popcorn, and hot chocolate while I read them stories in bed! So what if it only lasted thirty minutes? So what if my hot chocolate contained some Whiskey as well? We were happy.