Monday, March 12, 2012

Letting go

Earbaby's life is changing. The challenge is us changing with it.

A few weeks ago, EB had a heart-to-heart with her dad in which she said how much she loved gymnastics, really wanted to stay with it, loved dancing and wanted to keep doing all she was doing, despite the heavy load she was carrying in school.

The following week, in a burst of hormonal cloudiness or clarity, she declared she didn't want to do gymnastics anymore and wanted to quit right away. It's boring, it's not fun any more, and she was done.

So what changed in a short seven days? I have no idea. But this is who we have these days. EB will love something one day, hate it the next. But so far she has stuck to wanting to quit gymnastics, but I've told her she has to at least stick it out until the end of the season. She has another meet and states to go to and then, I told her, if she wants to quit, go ahead.

But I'm saddened by this decision. It's not that I enjoy spending the money for the practices, meets and the new uniform ($220 and I'll be lucky to get half of it back when we sell it). But I enjoyed watching her master the skills that I know she will be able to use should she continue with her desire to dance professionally. EB isn't going to the Olympics in gymnastics. She doesn't even have the single-mindedness to get a college scholarship in gymnastics, even at the Division 3 level. She's good, but not great. She's talented and when she performs, she has a nice gracefulness that is enhanced by her extensive dance background. And the gymnastics helps strengthen her core in her dance. Because they work hand in hand, I am sorry that she is leaving something that can only help her later on.

I felt this way when EB gave up piano and voice. She wants to go into entertainment (who doesn't at this age?) and the piano and voice could only make her more marketable later on, should she want to go into acting, dancing, or anything in that industry. But I promised that I wouldn't make her continue if she didn't want to, so I let her let it go. She may regret it later and her teacher has told her she can always come back. EB had a real talent for piano and still has a nice voice. But when she let it go and moved on, I had to adjust.

EB's new love is hip-hop. And she is good. Really good. She's been called out from a class of 150 while dancing in the back of a crowded ballroom. She stands out that much. But she can't be a one-trick pony, especially in dance.

She and I have talked about it. She doesn't like ballet, but her teacher is having her do bar work in a class to keep her core strengthened. It's a gift that EB doesn't really appreciate, but should she become a professional dancer some day, I know she will. I hope it won't be too late for her to go back and thank Miss Emily for pushing her to be a better dancer.

In the meantime, I have to reassess how to encourage EB's hopes and dreams, steer her in the right direction to get what she wants and yet let her make her own mistakes and have her own regrets.

She recently made the step team at her school, after making the dance team. She is one of only a handful of seventh-graders who are on these teams and she will be trying to juggle those activities. Since they're after school a few times a week, it's only a matter of my picking her up at school instead of at the bus stop. As long as she can handle it, I have no problem with her getting involved. Dance is her love right now and we are doing what we can to encourage it.

But I also want to encourage the technical, not quite-so-much-fun part of it. And EB is at the age where conditioning and technical work is boring. The actual dance is fun, but the hard work to get to that point, not so much.

Gymnastics was part of that hard work. She's going to let it go, much to my chagrin, but I have to let her let it go, knowing that there will be no going back. She's not as close with her closest friend there any more, and that friend will be going to another gym or competing with her school team next year. I'm sure that's part of EB's decision.

Even though EB has a heavy school load, she has managed to have plenty of time to park herself in front of the television most nights. When she had three hours of gymnastics two nights a week, that didn't cut down on the homework time, but it did eliminate about six hours of mindless television watching. Those six hours eliminated won't mean she'll add six hours of studying instead. And now with Facebook, I'm afraid that's six more hours of sitting at a computer, but on that site, nothing that will help her with either school or dance in the long run.

I'm hoping she will change her mind again, even though it will mean more money out of my pocket. Right now there's no wavering in her intent to quit. She'll move on, I'll move on, and life will move on. As she has said, she's had a good run. The hardest part of letting go isn't that she's not ready. It's that I'm not.

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