If there is one thing that my daughters know about me, they can always count on me. My daughters know that I will always encourage them. Both of my daughters know that I believe in them. They also know that they can come to me when they need help or advice.
I want to be careful here so that I do not upset other parents. It is a parent’s choice the decisions that they make with their child as far as extracurricular activities and how many they participate in. My approach was two-pronged. First, I wanted them to find something that they liked to do. Second, they commit to it.
If there is one lesson in life that I remember growing up, it was learning the importance of an education, and not just relying on the dreams of being a pro-football player or movie star, or someone else earning popularity or riches. The odds would be against me, nothing would just fall into my lap. And if I worked and studied hard, I would find out that my life would be pretty good even if I did not make that superstardom.
My oldest daughter had an interesting, yet I am sure not a unique approach, not wanting to practice, just do it. From the first dance class, she showed quite a bit of talent. And when it came to singing in the church choir, she shined. But as I said, when it came to practice, it is not that she did not feel that she want to practice, she was bored with the level of performance that was expected, as when the participation actually meant something. It was not unheard of during karate classes, for the instructor to ask me, “where did she learn to do that?” To which I replied, “I thought you taught her to do that,” referring to a higher level of move than what she should have been able to do.
My younger daughter took practicing differently. She is a bit of a social butterfly, so she enjoyed the extra time around all of the other children. And like her older sister, she did well. She would learn many techniques, and be promoted in belt rankings several times. But for whatever reason, she had just one issue. Competition.
The odd thing was, during practices and even belt promotions, all of the same participants were there. The same parents attended each event and practice, and my daughter knew them all. But for whatever reason, she would totally break down, when it would come to a competition, where she needed to perform individually. I never expected to see that from someone who had only shown confidence, and fun. But it was something that I learned about my daughter. And it would be a lesson that would make a difference to her later on in life.
Neither of my children are attention hounds, but during school, there will be times that you are called upon in class. Whether it will be to reach a page from a book, or answer a math problem, a student will have to speak up in front of others. And on a minor level of participation like this, is one thing. I would find out during her foreign language course that she takes, that her experiences in karate helped her to overcome.
In order to be graded in a foreign language, you not only have to be able to read it and write it, but you must also speak it. And unlike reading and writing, speaking must be done individually. And that would mean that my daughter would be in a similar “arena” as she was during competitions in karate. Only now, able to overcome the pressure that would torment her.
I am proud of all of the efforts that my daughters put in to what they do. And now that they are older, they now talk of their future, and their course selections will mirror their needs to achieve those goals. Neither back down from any challenge, and if they feel they are not challenged enough, the challenge themselves. And at the end of the day, they know that I am proud of them, believe in them, and love them.