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COLUMN: Kids' choices leave exasperated mom on thin ice

Now that extra-curricular activities have returned, it's difficult to know how hard to push kids — and in which direction, says reporter

It’s been three weeks since kids went back to school, and I feel like we may finally be getting back into what is apparently a “normal” existence of a family with young kids in school who are taking part in a variety of different extracurricular activities.

Both of my tiny humans have very different personalities and interests: One loves to dance and is who we refer to as our “indoor kitty” while the other has more recently taken an interest in sports such as soccer and basketball over the things that us (alleged) grown ups wanted them to do — like piano or ice skating. 

As a kid, I never learned to skate — and it’s something I regret to this day. I also played piano for many years, but gave it up at the end of my first year of high school because it wasn’t “cool”. That is another one of my big regrets, especially given that without my music (and English) credits, I likely never would have graduated high school with a decent GPA. 

This is where I am having a bit of an internal tug-of-war: Do they have ENOUGH activities to help broaden their horizons — or is it all TOO much? How much do I “push” the kids to get out of their comfort zones and grow as individuals?

Last year, Thing 1 finally agreed to try skating, but only if she could learn with “S”, an amazing young woman who has become their favourite human since she started babysitting them five years ago.

She thankfully agreed, and twice a week, she’d take Thing 1 to a local park where she’d teach her the basics of skating and more importantly, that it was OK to fall, because all you had to do was get back up and try again.

When registration for kids' activities began to open up for this fall, I told Thing 1 that we were going to sign her up for a Learn to Skate program — and she lost it. Full on ugly cry. I was stumped.

Do I push her to continue on with something I KNOW she enjoyed doing (albeit eventually) and potentially risk dealing with meltdowns before every class — and in turn potentially making it something she hates; or do I “cave” and let her bail on a skill that I feel she will regret not having as she gets older. Speaking as someone who never learned — the fear of falling just gets worse as you get older!

The last thing I want to do is to have them resent having to go to a lesson or a practice, something I know I often did as I got older, but I also know it’s important to be “pushed” outside of your comfort zone sometimes in order to grow… I suppose I am just struggling to figure out where to draw the line. 

Nikki Cole is a BarrieToday reporter.