The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My kid belongs on a stage, not a field

Tiana lately is such a barrel of laughs. I have this feeling that when I come home from China, she is going to be like a completely different kid. She says new stuff every day. Her vocabulary is expanding at an exponential rate. Yesterday, when she was ready to get out of the bath, she stood up and said, "Towel!"  Then, this morning, in the car, she picked up a Burger King crown, put it on her head and said, "I da queen!"  When she woke up this morning, she called me by saying, "Ana up! Ana up!"  I guess that is how she hears her name.

Vinny had a track meet today. My poor kid really just belongs on a stage so much more than he belongs on a field. I think I am going to intentionally insist that he nurture his artistic side instead of his athletic side. Research has proven that people's abilities to grow in their areas of strength are significantly higher than their abilities to grow in their areas of weakness. I went to this training at school this week that was all about Strengths training. They talked about the fact that we are who we are as people from the time we are children... we just become MORE who we are. 

Vinny is just not a good athlete and likely really never will be.  This is not surprising; it is in his genes. Marc is a good swimmer. I am an okay swimmer. My mother enjoys aerobics and riding her bike. It pretty much stops there.  We are not a family of athletic people and never have been. We are an artistic family though, on both sides. My dad is a born performer with a degree in theatre arts. Theatre is my passion too. Even Marc was successful in theatre as a kid. He did numerous musicals and even had a couple of decent roles as he got older. While I am sure that our influence had something to do with this, you can just tell that the arts are in Vinny's nature. Everything in his world is a show. He enjoyed theatre and was able to sit through full-length productions at a much earlier age than most of his friends. I am pretty sure he was just shy of 3 years old when he saw his first full length musical (and enjoyed it).  

I was very much like Vinny...  athletic endeavors always sounded like fun, but I was never any good at them. I tried soccer for a season when I was 8. When I was 9 and 10 years old I did the junior olympics, once on a relay team (I was definitely the weakest link) and once on a tri-cap-a-lon team, which was basically sit-ups. I am actually pretty darn good at sit ups, but I am not sure that this actually qualifies as athletic activity. I swam freshman year of high school, actually enjoyed it, and wasn't the worst either. Vinny is pretty good at swimming too, actually.  Aquatics are just an odd exception to our family's history of overall poor athletic achievement. 

Okay, so he did beat the kid who got dq-d for jumping the gun.
So, Vinny came in last in both of his events today. He still had fun though, and I suppose that is all that matters, but I do not think I will allow him to continue doing youth sports once track is over. Kids deserve to feel successful, just like adults. We are happiest when we play to our strengths. His strengths are in the arts, and nurturing these just seems like the more logical choice. I do feel it is important to have an active lifestyle, but people underestimate the effort involved in theatre and dance and stuff like that. 

My "Charlie" in Willy Wonka is out of breath pretty much every day, which tells me she is doing it right. Musical theatre involves throwing 100% of one's energy into a character. When Charlie wins that golden ticket, you can bet she is going to jump up and down and sprint through the "streets." 

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