My girl has been wanting a sewing kit ever since they had a sewing lesson two weeks ago in Girl Scouts. She asks for one everyday. Surprisingly, only because every kid in America seems to want one, she doesn’t want a rainbow loom. She came home with one of the bracelets a friend of hers had made and showed it to me a few weeks ago and ever since then, I have seen them everywhere. Mario got one from Quinn and when he accidentally undid the bands, I thought he might put himself in coronary arrest.
This morning, Maria again mentioned the sewing kit. I blurted out “I know, I know” making yet another mental note to get her that kit so she can start to sew my ripped shirts. I glanced at one of the bracelets on the table and asked “do you want one of those rainbow loom things?”
“No.” A pause. “I hope you’re not mad, mom. I’m just not into them like other people are.”
I know why she added the sentence after “no.” I have been getting on her about finding something that she really enjoys doing so that she isn’t bored when I’m doing other things. Im thinking she should read or draw or play a sport. But she has no interest. Don’t get me wrong, she will be the first to hop on her scooter and take a walk or play make-believe with the neighbor or help me bake cookies but she’s not into going to her room and chillin’ with a coloring pad or a book.
I did admit to her that it was a bit my fault since I kept her busy doing activities all her life and I was constantly by her side whenever we had a free moment (she swept that admission up and stuffed it in her pocket to inevitably sling at me the next time I got on her for not finding something to do by herself).
But while I got on her about doing things on her own, I realized I was pressuring her to do things that I would want to do: I wanted to read more so she should. I always loved to draw pictures so she should. I loved soccer so she should. But she’s not me. Ah-hah.
And so I have backed off on pushing those things on her. When I am reading my magazine, and she looks bored, I let her figure it out. Yes, she may play Minecraft on the iPad but she may also go outside and play with Rocco or just stare at the walls. But she’s no worse off than if I stuck her face in a book and forced her to read (which she would just mimic reading anyway). She gets her reading in at school and at home for homework.
She’s in third grade; she’s just starting to figure out who she is, what moves her, how she reacts to things. I don’t think that forcing her to engage in activities she doesn’t want to do is how I should help her get there (that is not to say that I won’t make her try at least one activity and one instrument eventually).
When I discarded this notion that those activities were the “right” activities for her and just listened to her and watched her, I saw and heard activities that she really wanted to do: sewing, horseback riding, building. They were just activities that didn’t interest me so I had been blind to really seeing them as options for her.
This morning, I called the horse farm to schedule lessons for Ri. I also asked a girlfriend where I could find a good starter sewing kit (she looked at me in amazement until I told her it was not for me but for Ri – she laughed hysterically).
And I am reminded yet again that discovery of self is a life-long process.