Something didn't seem right. She had been on that gate many times, but this night was different. For a split second, I think I actually saw the panic and worry in her eyes. The green color to her skin, because she was ready to throw-up. The focus on her face to do the best she can, so that she wouldn't disappoint. She didn't want to race, but she did it anyways. She did it because we told her to, because she thought it's what we wanted.
That was the night we decided that our kids will only continue in activities and sports they want to do. Hanna decided for herself that night, that BMX racing was not for her. She finished the season, her commitment, and then found her passion in dancing.
In my job as a school counselor and my role as a mom, I see LOTS of kids who are living out their parents dreams. It seems that our generation has brought on the expectation that parents will automatically enroll their kids into their (the parents') sport or activity of choice -- or else. That's right -- WE want our children to do all these things. It's often not the child's choice. Parents think they want success for their kids but in many ways they want if for themselves. I have fallen into that trap MANY times and continue to "check" myself when I want it more than they do.
Bottom line is this -- look at their face. Are they happy? When the going gets tough, do THEY still want to continue -- push through the hard times? Do the "I can't wait to go" days outnumber the "I don't want to go" days? No matter how many hours Hanna spends in the dance studio, she still WANTS MORE and Cooper... well his bike is pretty much an extension of his body.
No matter what, I will always stick by the three things I tell them before any competition or performance. "I Love You, I'm Proud of You, and Have Fun." They only get one childhood, and you only get one time to be a part of it. Choose wisely.