I gave up competitive swim team 2 weeks into my senior year of high school, basically because I wasn’t the best anymore and my younger (10th grade) sister could out swim me.
Only one season before “completing” my career, I just quit. Never mind the 10 years of time, energy, and money OH THE MONEY my parents put into my talents, I was just done and I didn’t care about anyone but myself.
Hindsight, I regret my decision.
I’m pretty sure I broke my parents hearts for not finishing out my senior year in the pool. But regardless of what they wanted, they let me make my own bad decision. A decision that I would regret as an adult, but a decision as a teen I needed to make for myself.
Piper and Nola started violin this year. One of my children flourished and thrived, while the other went kicking and screaming to each and every practice and performance.
I’ll give you two seconds to figure out which of my daughters hated being told what to do, and how to practice.
It was early on into the season that she decided she hated it, despite having a blast at the twice a week practices. She adored the friends she made, and she fell in love with her teachers (except for that one teacher that made her play laying down looking up at the ceiling, that wasn’t fun).
But whoa girl, each and every day we asked her to practice, and each and every day we made her go to group lessons, we were met with exceptional resistance.
It’s been a year of Level 18 on the Nola Rage scale. And we’re beat down and tired.
So we asked her to make the decision. She could quit if she really wanted to, but still needed to finish out her commitment of the season.
Tonight was her last performance, and she did so great. She was adorable, and I know she had a really fantastic day. The tiniest little blonde head in the group, that was my girl.
But this was her last performance. Even as we bounced out of the symphony hall high on adrenalin and a post-performance capri sun, I whispered in her ear and asked her if she was sure she wanted to be done.
Yes, she stilled wanted to be done, and I respect that.
As we walked back to our car, we decided to reward ourselves by popping into a candy store adjacent to the orchestra hall. I told both Piper and Nola to take a few minutes and pick out one piece to celebrate a job well done. As we were shopping, another family from the orchestra had the same idea.
The boy (who was a junior in high school) and his mom over heard that Nola had just retired and was hanging up the violin. The older and “wiser” mom looked at me and made it clear that “she pushed her kid” and I shouldn’t give up so easily on Nola. Her 17 year old son rolled his eyes at me and basically made it clear he does not enjoy playing his instrument, but his mom makes him.
She then went on to say that “he’s going to play in college whether he likes it or not, because he’s going to get a scholarship.”
You guys, I’m going to parent exactly opposite of this woman.
Sure there are things we have to do. We have to go to school. We have to keep our room tidy-ish. We have to show respect and kindness to those around us, and we have to obey most of the laws our government has set before us. These things are not options.
But we don’t have to play the violin, or swim, or enter the spelling bee if it makes us miserable. If we start, we must find a reasonable stopping point, but the agony doesn’t have to go on indefinitely.
Everyday I wake up and this parenting thing gets harder and harder. I want to be supportive, without cracking a whip. I want my kids to stay strong and never give up, but know when it’s ok to throw in the towel and not feel shame.
This girl has no shame, only a sense of pride and accomplishment that she played her last piece, The Happy Blues.
Celebrating her violin retirement with a fancy sucker reward. She’s my fierce and determined girl, and I love her.