I come from a background that has skewed my perspective of success in sports. I raced my bike competitively for nearly 15 years. I spent weeks upon weeks of nearly every summer at cycling camps and travelling the country to race. I was training upwards of 15 hours a week before I could drive. My sister is a professional ballet dancer, having left high school to start her professional career at a company out of state. She also spent her summers at far-away camps, training with the top international dance companies. I believe that to be REALLY successful in a particular sport, to compete on the national stage, you have to train … hard. And I also believe it’s awesome to compete on the national stage as a teen/young adult … it’s rewarding, exciting, informative, educational, etc. Sacrifices are made (not all bad ones of course) – maybe you miss some high school parties or the prom. Maybe you don’t really “live it up” in college because you need to get in some extra hours on the bike or there’s a big race coming up that you need to be rested for. That being said, I know that you don’t want to force a kid to do a sport they don’t thoroughly enjoy. It’s dangerous to put a growing body through the rigors of intense training and it’s easy to dance on the edge of unhealthy body image issues when you’re trying to be “the best” as an athlete, regardless of age.
As a mom, I’m not sure that I want to bring my competitive perspective to my children in a way that hurts them … makes them hate exercise, despise team sports or burn out at the ripe old age of 12. To that end, will it be possible to not fly like a helicopter over my boys as they get started in sports? I guess only time will tell.
So, speaking of helicopter moms, take this past week. My oldest (3.5 y/o) started a Creative Movement class. He loves to run, dance and flip around, so what better way to get some energy out in a nice organized format than a class that specializes in all sorts of dance, tumbling and just general movement? I was psyched, and he was psyched, despite being the only boy in the class. Frankly, what a great opportunity to flirt it up with the girls!!
Truthfully, I may be wrong but I might have had a better time than him. It was awesome to sit in the “Parent Waiting Area” and listen/watch the other parents and grand parents. They have a closed circuit television so you can see what’s going on in the class. At first it was sort of strange but then, I know there comes a point where you have to keep parents at bay and many kids (mine for instance) do better, listen more attentively and generally participate more when they can’t see their parents or go running back to them every 2 seconds. The TVs also allow parents to step in should their child be completely disinterested or have a wild and crazy temper tantrum! (This was a class for 3 to 5 year olds so there was a pretty decent range of skill levels and attention levels.)
I was excited to watch as my son did what he was told, talked with the other kids, did a pretty respectable forward roll and, if I may boast a minute, the best straddle jump. I was most excited, though, to enjoy watching the parents videoing … that’s right, whipping out the flip cam and/or camera phone … videoing the TV. So, they’re now the proud owners of footage of a blurry screen that shows 10 little kids, all in pretty much matching leotards (except for my son, who was in shorts). Not to mention the fact that a handful of times they incorrectly identified their own children because it’s so hard to tell them apart on the little screen. I also enjoyed listening to how great their daughters are at tumbling, why they didn’t bring their tap shoes (tap shoes for a 3 year old who’s NOT in an actual tap class, you’ve got to be kidding me) and how they left their last dance studio because the instructor just didn’t get along with them (not the kid, the parent.) Oh, it was so wonderful! I should’ve whipped out my superphone to get some footage of the parents!
So, as I could go on for days about how funny the 45 minutes I spent at the dance studio was, I will end with this … while I know I need to keep my helicoptering in check when it comes to pushing my boys, I vow that that I will never be one of THOSE moms … or even worse, one of THOSE grandmas.