where wildly different is perfectly normal
So when do I call the game?
So when do I call the game?

So when do I call the game?

Ok, I’m actually going to avoid political talk here. Yay me! I may go Karin’s route and start up my own political rant blog. Frankly, I may have to, to stay sane. No one may read it, but I’ll feel better venting. But that’s neither here nor there, so…new topic.

One of the hardest parts of parenting is…well, parenting. Yeah, sounds silly to me, too. Today after school A didn’t listen, ran away when called to come home, and mouthed off when he was dragged into the house. There was a Grand Opening Celebration for his new school tonight and we didn’t go because of that. And then he proceeded to totally lose his shit. I’m sure it was compounded by the fact that he could see the entire celebration from the dinner table.

This is the part of parenting I detest the most.

Another one of my least favorite parts is trying to figure out when to call the game. A has been gritching for weeks about karate, something he’s pretty good at. Now, I have laid down the law about scouts. He will be a cub scout, so help me, no discussion. (Ok, yes, scouting has a spotty record on many things, but I saw what a positive effect it had on my Eagle Scout brother, who is A a generation ago, and A stays in scouting). He’s stopped that argument. But the karate thing… When do I call it? His instructor is fantastic. No, really, he is amazing. He is all about focus outside of karate, at home, in school. He’s all about respect. And I’m kinda envious of my boys, doing something that looks like so much fun!

So I’m caught between doing what’s best for my boys and what, it appears, I want. I always hated teaching the kids who didn’t want to be there, whose parents were pushing them. It was always obvious that it was the parents  who should have been taking the flute lessons, not the kid. I don’t want to be that parent.  But I see what a positive effect karate will have on my boys, too. And we’ve all heard the stories of adults who say, “I wish my parents had kept me in piano…” Sigh…so what do I do? Yeah, I’m the parent, but I also live with this kid who gritches about karate all the time. I was actually relieved that A mouthed off this afternoon, as it meant that I didn’t have to listen to him all the way up there and all the way back.

A has mentioned that his sport is swimming. I’m sure this is partly his infatuation with Michael Phelps and partly the fact that he finally got over his freak out of the pool. No, it wasn’t fear, he was never afraid, he’d just freak out over random aspects of the pool, like the jets that move the water around. And then, when I told him that Michael Phelps was just like him as a kid (he was on Ritalin 3x a day as a kid…and kept asking questions until he got answers…and how did his mother not wring his neck?), A was totally on board.

So do I bag the karate and go to swimming? I’m so lost here. Do I insist on follow through or allow investigation of many different things? I’m not worried about J here. J will start up violin lessons again, and will do whatever sport I sign him up for, whether it’s karate or swimming. And frankly…J is still working on left vs. right, so karate is a challenge for him anyway.

But what do I do? I’m sick of the fighting, it’s not a battle I care to do anyway…bleh. Thoughts?

And now for something completely different…my laptop is fried. Totally, completely, entirely fried. The motherboard is toast. Geek Squad did nothing last week; in fact, I’m pretty sure they never turned on the computer. So my repair guy dug in there and discovered that a chip had burnt up, could smell residual smoke, and the motherboard was done for. Back to the Geek Squad with an attitude, it has gone back to HP, and hopefully I’ll have it back in 10-14 days. This is the last crash I’ll deal with. If there is a next one, the laptop goes on eBay for spare parts, and I’m getting an iMac laptop. I’m done with this. So how am I writing this, then? Backup computer. I’m still without my laptop/my brain, but at least I’m able to write/do email/etc. Gah.


  1. That’s always such a fine line. You don’t want him to quit something, but if he hates it…

    If he’s been doing the karate for awhile, let him try something new. If not, set up a timeline for it, say after the next belt test or something. Then let him try the new thing. But either way, make it clear that he has to make a minimum commitment to it. My younger son wanted to take violin desperately. But he got frustrated with it and wanted to quit after a few weeks. I reminded him that he promised he would take for at least a year before any decisions were made. That will get him through this frustrating part and into the fun stuff. I hope. 🙂

    Hope this helps! Hang in there…

  2. I usually lean more towards “letting them do something they love will ultimately give more benefit”. If you have to drag him there kicking and screaming, how much is he going to end up getting out of it, as opposed to a class where he races out the door so as not to be late, listens to every word, and does his best each week for sheer love of it?

    Itai has changed sports three years in a row, but each time he’s enjoyed the new challenge and stuck with it. Well, except for hockey, where he ended up two years younger than the rest of the kids and way over his head skill-wise, but before he quit we made him stick it out long enough to be sure that he really couldn’t catch up, since he’d begged to be let in and bought expensive new skates on the coach’s assurance that he could (grrr). Once it became clear that all the other little kids had left though we let him move to soccer, which he loved.

    This year he’s moved from soccer to jujitsu to be with friends, but I’m not buying the suit until he’s been with it for at least a month ;-).

    If karate is really making him miserable and is that much of a challenge maybe it’s just not the right sport for him this year, and he’d enjoy it more later.

    Just my two cents. This parenting gig is HARD, isn’t it?


  3. Once again, I am incredibly glad I have a dog and a cat. I have no idea how parents do this stuff. I am in awe of you and the other mommy bloggers. It is beyond my comprehension. I’m glad when I can get myself up and dressed and out to work, never mind wee little dependent souls who need pushing and cajoling and encouragement.
    I took tap and tumbling as a little girl. Don’t know that it did a thing for me. I mostly wanted to be with a couple of my friends. I also took oil painting lessons, which produced what you might imagine from a 9-year-old. Some are still framed and hang in my aunt’s house. In the upstairs hall, though. She’s got grown-up stuff downstairs.
    In my work today, I make sketches and designs and I have to say I NEVER think back on those art classes and say “wow, I am glad Iearned this back then.” I struggled with art then, and my sketching I learned as an adult.
    I have yet to make use of the tumbling and tap dancing skills I learned, either. Hard to do in steel toed boots.

  4. Let me know when you get answers on this. I don’t know. I struggle constantly, too. For us, sometimes it comes down to a matter of convenience and money. This year, my boys aren’t gonna play basketball because the cost went up $40/kid and I now have two in it. It would be over $200 for my 5 and 7 year old to play basketball and I think that is too much for that age when they can barely HOLD a basketball let alone DRIBBLE the damn thing.

    I also won’t drive too far at this age. They are 5 and 6 and there is enough stuff close by to try out even if it isn’t what they love. I figure by the time they are in 3rd grade, they can start telling me more of what they love. Right now, they haven’t even tried lots of things.

    I think if they were practically crying becase we were going to an activity, i would not do that activity again, but the problem I have is that my kids seem to love whatever they are involved in.

    Ugh, this is so hard.


  5. Girl, if I had the answers, I’d write a book and become a billionaire!! Lex was never really interested in anything that long. When he was 5, I signed him up for soccer. Unfortunately, the park district team we joined was all Latino and was coached by a wonderful man who spoke no English. I could remember enough Spanish to help Lex understand what the coach wanted, and I think he had some fun, but he wasn’t gaga about it. He did, however, love his coach, as did I. He was very kind and VERY patient with the boys, and managed to teach them a great deal about playing the game. The next year, we signed up again, but sadly last year’s coach was only the assistant this year (work conflicts) and the new coach was horrible. He was a screamer. After 2 practices, we never went back.

    I also gave drum lessons a try one summer. He liked it the first few weeks, but once the teacher started scolding him for not practicing, he had had enough. I still wish I would have pushed, but there were just too many other battles to deal with, I had to let this one slide. Believe me, as a former band geek, it wasn’t easy. Recently, he has mentioned maybe wanting to learn guitar (YAY!) but I’ve learned to hide my enthusiasm about this kind of stuff because it seems to instantly turn him off. Afterall, if Mom thinks it’s cool, it must not be, right? We’ll have to wait and see where this goes…

  6. Tough situation. Keeping a Ritalin kid focused is half the problem I think. So caving to his most recent whims may not be the best thing. I watched my friends growing up quietly and methodically pursuing the things that interested them. Me, I was a wall bouncer. Whatever caught my eye, I went after it. In some cases, I still do. The only thing my parents did was make sure I had positive outlets. And even then it almost did not work.

    Tough job parenting. Steering a kid like I was ( and no Ritalin back then) has to be one tough row to hoe. Hang in there. Caring enough to even think about it is half the battle.

    BTW – I am with you on the politics thing. I have become manic in recent weeks.

  7. I know what you mean about trying to find the right actvities for your kids. We’ve been struggling to find stuff for Ethan, who has high-functioning autism. His disability makes team sports hard for him, but we felt like if we didn’t try it now, while he is 6, it would just get too competitive. He did soccer in the spring, and it was ok. I went ahead and signed him up for fall, but he said he didn’t want to. I was on the fence about pushing him to do it, hoping that with practice he would get better and like it better, and respecting the fact that he didn’t want to do it. We finally decided to drop it and find something else. That’s the hard part–we’re still trying to find something. We’re going to try horseback riding and see how that goes.

  8. I understand how you can feel the pressure for your son to stick with one thing, especially if you see he has success and does well at it.

    I say let him stop karate when the classes that have been paid for are done (emphasizing the committment here). Let him try swimming. It’s a great sport, and a good opportunity to learn an excercise that could be used for a lifetime.

    I’ll be really honest with you. My son has ADHD. He’s not athletically talented, but he loves to swim. He’ll do lap after lap after lap. I really think it has a calming effect for him. I think Michael Phelps is terrific, and I hope he truly is all that he appears to be, because my son adores him too. We’ve done the karate route, he was pretty good at it, but then he resisted going, and we made him stick out his committment and then we let it go. I bring it up with him now and again, and he’s considering it again. But the swimming he loves.

    I hate that part of parenting too. Calling the game can suck.

  9. RC

    Okay, I’ll agree with my sister (mrsvierkant) to some degree, but I will mention this.

    About two years into piano lessons, I wanted to quit. My mom pushed me to six years. I’ve been grateful ever since.

    I was able to pick up just about any instrument and learn it quickly, due to my piano background.

    So, my thought is this – honor the commitment. However, if you see a HUGE benefit to him staying in it longer, push for whatever you see to be a good try (two years, I feel, unless they absolutely hate every moment).

    Since he wants to try swimming, make him commit to a certain amount of time to give it a try.

    Good luck! I am certain I have many battles ahead – especially since piano lessons do loom in my son’s future (hey – they are good for math, too).

  10. You know, I think you’ll see benefits from him swimming too. Maybe no one coaching him on focus at home, but the kid will definitely be tired. He’ll have burnt up some energy and been able to feel his whole body in the water. Do you know what I mean? How when you’re in the water, your body feels a bit heavier. You can feel the water pressure on it. I think it’s good for kids who need to learn to slow down.

    My mom had my sister and I in ballet for years. I told her I hated it and wanted to stop. So she put me in jazz dancing. Then I realized I needed to be specific about no dancing whatsoever. And she gave me some very motherly response like, “you don’t understand why I want you in these classes now, but you will in the future.” Honestly, I’m 33, and still have no clue. Maybe I should go ask her what that was all about.

    Anyway, my two cents is to let him do swimming and say he has to do it for a year or six months. And after that much time, give him the option to re-up or change. There’s something to be said for exposure to many things. Keep the scouts as his major commitment so he knows what it’s like to stick with something long term.

  11. Me

    Well, “once a mother, always a mother”. Even after the kids are grown and off on their own, you still wonder if you handled everything in the best interest of all involved. On one hand, you decided early on (age 4!) that you wanted to be involved in music. On the other hand, your “Eagle Scout” little brother had difficulty vocusing an interest for any length of time. He too “had to be in Karate”. So after paying $50 for the suit, he lost interest after a few lessons. Was it worth the battle to force him to continue the classes? With so many other battles to fight, I decided NO. He stayed with Scouting, mainly because his patient father was involved. And every small accomplishment in the Scouts fed his self-esteem. His experiences had a direct impact on who and what he is today. I saw how A improved in just a few days in swimming and how proud he was of his accomplishments. He actually glowed! I personally would get him into swimming immediately, and would pack the karate suit away (just in case J is interested a few years down the road). As dad always said “you can’t push a rope”. There are no steadfast rules in parenthood – you make them up as you go.

    Oh, yeah, and after all these years, you are still interested in music. As parents, we have always been proud of your talent and accomplishments, and also of the wonderful, caring mommy you are.

  12. G

    We had the same issue with baseball….Pal has ADHD and there was not enough action going on for him. I didn’t want to disappoint the team or the coach, but it was hell getting him to go to the practices. Finally we had to “call the game” and cut our losses….we were much happier and found many other things to occupy our time. Just do what is best for your kid and don’t worry about what other people might say!

    Good luck!

  13. well I am being a hypocrite here — but.

    Seems when my kids want to quit something I become the jewish mom from a sit-com full of all this guilt crap (I swear my mother never guilted us, I have no idea where this comes from).

    however, also being the queen of compromise, my children have, to their credit (and some to their dad), managed to make me see compromise as an option. Stay until this session commitment is over then we will try swimming for a session, then you make a choice. taking one session off doesn’t mean quitting, and trying something new can only give them broader experiences. Usually, they end up doing both and I regret the hideous torture I have inflicted upon myself, but in the end it’s been good for all three of them to do and to quit various activities.

  14. Haven’t been on the mommy side of this issue yet (we have neither time nor money to enroll in extracurricular activities for my 5 yr old) but I’ve seen parents struggle with keeping their child in my classes (various music and movement classes.) You really laid out an amazing list of details about pros and cons — I bet you can lay those out to him too, and then say (1) we honor our commitments and we aren’t quitters, but (2) when it’s reeeeaaallllly just not working for you, what’s the point? And Karate ain’t gonna disappear. I’ve taken DECADES off from several of my passions (and single parenting will force one to do that a lot.)

    Anyway I know you already worked this one out, excellently. Just weighing in.

  15. Pingback: Not eating the frog, though it hops all over the room, like my train of thought « Never A Dull Moment

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