WWTMD (What Would Tiger Mom Do?)

Tomorrow is Tuesday. On Tuesdays, Sadie goes to gynmastics at a local gym that her mother happens to think is really fucking cool.  Her mother looks forward to Tuesdays because she loves watching Sadie swing and “tumble” during the class, especially since Sadie started out afraid of everything from the trampoline to the hand sanitizer at the gym.  Watching the transformation of Sadie from scared little mama’s girl to expert tumbler has been incredible.

But last week Sadie started to rebel.  She refused to do about 40 minutes of the class, which lasts 45 minutes.  Everyday since then I have asked her if she wants to go back to gymnastics.  Her answer? An emphatic “no.”

Alrighty then.  When I mentioned this to Jeff he said that it’s possible that Sadie is too young to make informed decisions about her activities.  At first we thought that was the right approach, but as the days have gone on, we now have a seven-day string of adamant NOs. I think we better heed.

I am basically ok with her quitting gymnastics. Who cares? It’s just something for us to do that is supposed to be fun. I do, however, have a little voice in the back of my head that is my inner Tiger mother saying, “if she quits this, she will never go back; she’ll always be a quitter; maybe it’s my job to make her stick it out for another session.” I think it’s too soon to say Sadie will always be a quitter– she hasn’t quit whining and I have asked her to almost everyday since she turned verbal.

I am reminded of Amy Chua and those puninishing piano lessons for her daughters.  From the description in the book, those sounded abysmal for both daughters (especially the younger oppositional one) and Ms. Chua. Of course I don’t want that.  In some ways, the appealing part of imposing my will on Sadie (which is NOT what I intend to do) is that there won’t be any guesswork: We will just do what I want.  When I put the ball in Sadie’s court and ask her what she wants to do, sometimes she says “cooking class” (excellent answer!) or sometime she says “just play” (sounds BORING to me).

I also can’t wait until Sadie finds something she loves. Or several things.  Will it be piano or rugby or collecting old fashioned salt & pepper shakers? My plan is to support it like my parents supported by obsession with all things ballet when I was younger (Baryshnikov posters, ballet camp, leotards, rehearsals all the time).  I think I should let go of any fantasies that I will spend my weekends at gymnastics meets watching Sadie sail from bar to bar or concentrate on the balance beams.  For now, that appears to be off the table.

So what do you do when your lil one wants to quit an activity? Never look back?

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7 thoughts on “WWTMD (What Would Tiger Mom Do?)

  1. Tough question! I hate pushing Daughter2000 to do “fun” things she doesn’t like (see e.g., soccer), but I’m also not convinced she really knows what she likes yet. I do know that Sadie is too young to be a quitter. What she doesn’t like this week, she may love next week.

  2. We struggled with this for awhile. My husband insists he needs to learn there are things in life that you must do (I won’t mention that my husband still struggles with this fact). While I don’t necessarily disagree, I didn’t think age 2 was the time to start. As we got to three I started to be more firm. In the end I pretty much did both – some days I may it clear he didn’t have to go if he didn’t want to and then other days I told him he had to go, that today was not optional. He doesn’t know the difference between a Tuesday and a Friday so the consistency was with me. When I said he had to go, he did. When I decided if he pushed back I would allow him to stay home, he stayed home. I never sent a mixed message (though I realize at some age he will know the difference and that my decisions were somewhat arbitrary).

    Have you ever watched the first 15 minutes of the Freakonomics documentary where they talk about parenting? Just for the fact that you are asking this question means you are a good parent. The rest will work itself out.

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