A funny thing happens when you have more than one child, particularly if they are the same gender. People kind of expect them to be the same.
Or if the kids themselves aren’t similar, there is the push to do everything the same for them. Take them to the same swimming lessons, spend equal amounts on birthday presents, and match birthday party for birthday party. I even knew a woman who refused to breast feed her second child, because the first one couldn’t attach, and she didn’t think that was fair.
It’s a reasonable notion really. None of us wants any of our children to feel more loved than the other, or that one has more opportunities than their siblings, but I wonder if, sometimes, we take it too far.
My eldest daughter Taylah, is very athletic, and always has been. She can swim well, run fast, and most importantly, she loves it. She enjoy’s being active and getting out there and giving things a go (if, of course, she is not completely absorbed by the TV. :))
When she turned one, I enrolled her in swimming lessons. It seemed the necessary thing to do, because she had no fear of the water, and those skills were valuable life saving ones. Needless to say, she took to it like a duck, and considered it for several years, until she was five. At that point we gave her the choice between continuing to swim (and joining the squad), or learning ballet, and she chose the latter.
She has been dancing ever since, performing on stage at the Darwin Entertainment Centre, and doing a beautiful job. She is stylish, and graceful and possesses the natural rhythm that lots of the other girls seem to lack.
In the interest of being fair, we also started Bridie and Bailey at swimming lessons when they turned one.
Bridie only lasted 18 months because of her ear, and Bailey about the same time because he just didn’t enjoy it, and it was getting too hard with Ava.
Ava, the forgotten fourth child, has never had a lesson.
Partly because I can’t be bothered, partly because we can’t afford it, and partly because she is terrified of water.
They are four very different children.
But back to the ballet. Since Taylah has been doing it, I have had so many people ask me when Bridie will start, like it should just be expected. Whether this is because what’s good for the goose should be good for all the other children, or because she should want to follow in her big sisters footsteps, I’m not completely sure. Regardless, my response has always been ‘When, and if, she is ready.”
The fact of the matter is Bridie did try it for a little while when she was four, but didn’t enjoy it. Since then she has had fun doing Auskick on ocassion, and that’s it. She is more than happy just to chill at home with her toys, and not have any extra curricular activites.
And then, last year, a funny thing happened. As we went to watch Taylah’s performance, she was transfixed and fell in love.
Not with the dancers.
Not with the show.
Not with the beautiful dresses.
But with the stage.
She was desperate to be on it.
Fast forward 6 weeks, and the school’s end of year thanksgiving service was held in the same venue. The event was rounded off by the entire primary school singing a song on that very stage, that just a month before, she had been admiring.
The stood in their rows, they sang their song, and then they came back to their parents. But the little girl who I found in the throng of green uniformed children, was a different one than I had sent on stage.
She was inspired.
You know that feeling you get, when you do the thing you know you were made to do? And it feels like there is so much more air in your lungs, and your whole body is light, and you could quite possible fly?
That’s what Bridie had.
The stage had made her come alive.
There is an old proverb that says:
The idea is that as a parent, it’s my job to know where my children’s talents, passions and interests lie, and push them in that direction. Encourage them to go with their natural flow, and set them up for future success. It means putting aside the pressure to spend the exact same amount of money on each child, enrolling in the exact same sports or clubs, and realising that if you support them all in the area that they personally were made to follow, that is true, and beautiful equality.
Funnily enough, last week Bridie started ballet. For no other reason than that she wants to be on the stage, and this is a way to get there.
And for now, that’s good enough for me. 🙂
Do you struggle to make sure everything is ‘fair?’
In what ways can you see that your kids need different opportunities in different areas?