Well, we seem to have hit another minor milestone. And, to be honest I’m not really sure how to handle this one. Big kid has asked to drop an extra-curricular activity for the very first time. This has raised quite a number of issues for me - questions of the right and wrong of it all as well as leading me to a bit of a reflection on how our lives are constantly altering as we grow and change together.
My first born is no longer a tiny malleable puppy who can be led by the nose to whatever activity I think would be beneficial. He is beginning to think for himself and ask his own questions. This is exactly what i wanted for him, he is the child I dreamed I’d have. In reality, it’s bloody exhausting. I am willing to answer questions on any subject (to the best of my ability), to let him make choices on day to day things like the clothes he wear, the books he reads and where we go on days out. Well, I’m willing if there is nothing else more important to do, like get to school, or finish dinner, or go to sleep or any of those other massively inconvenient times he decides to develop his own personality. Nevertheless, in principle, I am happy to support him in questioning the status quo and making his own decisions.
Quitting an activity feels a much bigger choice than that. We are setting ourself on a path from which there is no return; if I let him quit this will he then quit everything and amount to nothing? Will he spend his life aimlessly wandering from job to job doomed to become a musician or a stand up comedian as he’s not fit for regular employment? On the other hand, if I make him stay and keep plugging away at something that he hates he might become hysterically resentful of me and leave home at sixteen never to darken our door again, or he might become trapped in over-committing to things he hates, aged fifty and trapped in a loveless marriage with someone who despises him, stuck in a job he loathes, never having left his home town… its safe to assume I’ve spiralled a bit out of control on this one.
There’s no getting away from it, Big Kid is starting to make his own decisions and form his own opinions. He is beginning to understand and question the world around him. In theory, I love the idea of this. In practice, it leads me to want to throttle him on an almost daily basis. “Yes darling, drinking wine isn’t very healthy… no I’m not going to stop… because being a grown up is very complicated and a little glass of wine at teatime is preferable to infanticide.” He was appalled with me and my boozy habits. (It's ok, I managed to wrest the iPad off him before he could google infanticide.) His moral high ground is unassailable and his sense of righteous indignation burns strong enough to power a small village. Quite frankly, living with a self-anointed saint is not always a barrel of laughs. I have taken to looking at renaissance paintings of martyrs just for some light relief.
The irony is my second born has been doing all of this this since she was stringing two words together. She has constantly second-guessed my every move and hell and high water cannot compel her to participate in an activity unless she wants to. It has never even occurred to me to mind. I have no fear that this child will follow her own path wherever it leads her. My role is purely cheerleader and facilitator… and trying to bring her brother up properly so she can at least learn something worthwhile from the only member of the family she respects.
I like to finish posts with something I’ve found useful or I think might be helpful but to be honest, with this little quandary, I don’t know what to do. Any help or advice will be gratefully accepted.