I'm in the process of going back to work. I have even spent several hours at a stretch at the office over the past 2 weeks - on 3 separate days. I have met with clients and even worked on files. We are in the midst of a nanny search, trying to decide if having someone spend the day at home with Kensi while I go back to work is worth while. I am struggling with the whole thing (mommy guilt) and cannot fathom how my friends with babies go back to work only 6 weeks after delivery. While sitting at home contemplating my re-entry into the working world, I stare at my "Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market 2010" and wonder if I can make it as a writer. I consider the file full of 2 and 3 page manuscript starts on my computer hard drive and wonder if I should bother. Getting paid to write would certainly allow me to stay at home with the girls. Then I ask myself what I really want to do with my life when I grow up.
When my “ballerina-cheerleader-musketeer” flits around the room and declares her desire to play softball and soccer and dance and go to gymnastics and do all things at once, I’m reminded of my own “extra-curricular” activities in school. Starting in elementary school, I figured out that I could run kind of fast and was pretty good at doing sit ups or push-ups on Field Day and I liked to sing in the school programs. I also did really well on the academic side of things. In 5th grade, I started playing the trumpet in band. Throughout high school, I stuck with the trumpet (until my senior year,) kept singing with the choir and played volleyball, basketball and ran track. I won’t say that I was a “star” on any of the teams or in band or choir, and I wasn't hugely successful past the high school or college stage (I definitely have never been paid to play sports or play an instrument or to sing.) And in the midst of my mediocrity, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I had just picked one thing and worked really hard on it.
Now that Brooklyn is in kindergarten and is having fun trying out all sorts of new sports, I can’t help but wonder how her experiences will be different. These days, the coaches and the programs almost force you into a choice at an early age. Players who want to try out for a team in the fall have to go to camp in the summer and there are All-Star teams and travel teams and all sorts of ways to encourage children to burn out on a sport before their 16th birthday.
Brooklyn tried T-Ball last summer and really only liked the part where she got to run around all of the bases at once. She always wanted to be the last person "up" so that she could run around uninterrupted. She tried soccer this past fall, but found that didn't really suit her either (at least not yet.) She liked running back and forth, but she got bored with all of the waiting around. We even looked into a local track program that takes 5 year olds, but it was more on the level of a high school club program, with required practices, a volunteer donation by the parents and meets every Saturday, and we just aren't ready for that kind of commitment. She is currently testing her acting chops in a musical theater program put on at a local dance studio. For eight weeks she is learning songs and dancing around to Camp Rock 2. How she likes it remains to be seen, although I am a bit worried about her sense of rhythm. We'll see how that all pans out.
But this all begs the question – are kids today more likely to be a “star” if they focus on one thing? Are parents bent on rearing the next Tiger Woods or Lebron James (admittedly both could have used a bit more instruction in social skills.) Or are children more well-rounded individuals when they are exposed to the experience of many things?
I still encounter this question in my daily life as an adult. I want to write and to keep a finger on the pulse of that ambition, I dabble in blogging and take notes for novels that I’m writing in my head and screenplays that may never see the screen. I bake cookies for friends and cakes for birthdays and dream of someday being paid to do it for “real.” I take pictures of everyone and everything and think that someday it would be fun to be a “professional” photographer with my own studio.
Perhaps it is the dreams of youth that keep us young and in continuing to come up with things that I want to do, I continue to find purpose in my existence and reasons to get out of bed. I suppose when I run out of things to do, I should start to worry.