Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No, You Can't Take Dance Class.

Why? Because I'm not giving up any more of my time.

That might sound like a harsh message, particularly when delivered to an 8 year old girl.  But considering how much I say "yes" to my daughter, it stands to reason that "no!" needs to work itself into some of the conversations.

This conversation started much like many others, with her asking about things that I used to do, as we were in the car with be driving her to Hebrew school on Sunday morning.  We were discussing classes I took a few years ago (dancing...of a sort) and she ended the interrogation with "Can I take dance classes?"

Simple answer: no.

Her dad and I have had this conversation with her several times.  At the tender age of 8, her schedule is already packed with various activities and adding one more thing would break the bank.  Gymnastics on Monday, voice lessons on Tuesday, and Hebrew school on Thursdays and Sunday.   Add to that my volleyball league on Monday nights, basketball league on Sundays, Rob's baseball league on Sundays and a myriad of evening meetings for networking, office things and Temple business.  Our schedule is packed to overflowing.

Some parents might look at this and suggest that we take a little less time for ourselves and give a little more for our daughter.  In a perfect world, that might be a viable suggestion.  But our world is anything but perfect, and the list above does not take into consideration that her dad and I both work full time and have another daughter in preschool.  It also doesn't include her at school after-school theater group (which she loves.)  I also draw from my own experiences, which were limited where extracurricular activities were concerned.  I heard the word "no!" more times than I ever care to count, which is perhaps why I say "yes" to my girls as often as I do.  But I also recognize the need to draw the line.  There is such a thing as "too much" for our kids and our kids do need to hear the word "no!", so that they develop a healthy understanding that life does not always hand them what they want.

Sidebar - we are currently dealing with this with our 4 year old, who flops herself down on the ground in tears whenever we say "no."  It does not matter what the question is, if the answer is "no," she throws a fit.  And throws whatever is in her hands.  Usually something solid.  And at me.

Back to the 8 year old - I would be happy to sign her up for dance, or whatever other extra activity she would want to try, if she gave something else up.  (In my mind, I am thinking that gymnastics is not long for her world - she is already incredibly tall for her age and by the time I hit 6th grade, I was too tall for the uneven bars.  She is definitely following in my footsteps on that one.)  However, I refuse to add one more thing to her schedule, if it means having to give up something of mine.

If you think I am being selfish, you are probably correct.  But I will not apologize for that.  My daughters need to see me doing things for myself, even if it means that they do not get to do something.  I want both of my girls to grow up to be strong, independent women, who value their own self worth.  In order to do that, they need to see me taking time for myself and taking time to do things that I like to do, even without them or their dad.  Sometimes, it is as simple as going to get my nails done, by myself.  The example they see is that it is o.k. to have things that you like to do, that no one else is involved in.  Yes, I can share those things with others (the girls like to come to my games and watch me play), but I am not there for them.  I am there for me.

I hope that both girls develop interests in things that they will continue to do into their 20s or 30s or 40s.  I hope that they recognize the value in holding on to some of those favorite things, and realize that sometimes it is o.k. to want to be alone or to do something by themselves.  I hope that they understand that they do not need to share everything with their spouse or mate, and that in keeping a bit of themselves, separate from the other person, they are making the relationship stronger.

Yes, that is a bit down the road. (O.k., hopefully a LONG way down the road.)  But I think that it starts now.  By seeing me or their dad maintain a little of our individuality, they understand that it is o.k. to take some time for themselves.  Then when it is time for them to have their own families, they won't feel guilty about it. Well, they might  feel a little guilty.  But that doesn't mean that they will say "yes" to the dance lessons.

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