Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Something About Lucy

"I want to learn how to ride a unicorn."

This is a famous Lucy quote.  She was five years old when she said this in reply to this question, er, series of questions: "Honey, what sport do you want to play? Soccer? Tennis?  What do you want to sign up for?  What do you want to learn to do?"

While I love my daughter's imagination and creative thinking, it can also be maddening.   We have never pushed her to join a group or a team.  Encouraged? Yes, but never pushed or pressured.  Lucy is a brilliant, funny, creative, brave little girl.  I've always thought/known she was a go-to-the-beat-of-her-own-drum kind of girl, which I can kind of relate to.  

Lucy is a throw your head back and soak it up kind of kid.
"Mom, I LOVE being alive!," she exclaimed while we were on a nature walk the other day.

But in this world of Tiger Moms and Helicopter Parents, I feel conflicted.  I don't know if I should be pressuring her more, pushing her more.  I don't care if she is the best tennis player or the best actress in community theater, I just want her to feel connected.  I want her to have a place where she belongs.  I want her to have a group she is a part of.  I want her to know how wonderful she is.  I want her to hold onto this sense of wonder and joy forever.  I want her to have opportunities to express her self and learn and grow and shine and share that something, that special something about Lucy.

"Guess what, you are going to an audition," I told her yesterday.

"No I'm not," she replied.

I knew she wouldn't be thrilled with my great idea of trying out for the youth theater down the road.  I mean come on! Lucy plus drama + creative people + audience= perfect combination.    But Lucy is more street performer than theat-ah diva.  She is the girl that goes for the laugh or the look from strangers in line at the grocery store or on the playground rather than the school play.  She is the girl that likes making her own rules, being her own group, getting lost in her own imagination.  And again, I totally get it, but I'm the parent, I'm supposed to push and pressure, right?

"I'm not going and you can't make me," she said both defiant and hurt, with how-could-you?-sad-eyes, like I had just told her we weren't going to celebrate Christmas anymore.

Our "discussion" went on for a long time and neither one of us walked away feeling very happy.

I explained how I wanted her to try new things, how it gets harder to try new things as you get older, how much I love her, how I want good things for her.

"Thank you, but the answer is still no," she said.

For a minute I turned into a wacky mom from a bad reality show and promised milkshakes and presents if she'd just go to the damn audition for Christ's sake.  But only her brothers got into that idea, pleading with her to go so they could all get milkshakes.  Lucy was unimpressed and called me out on my bribing tactics.

After a few tears (mine) and some time, I stopped fighting it and she did not go to the audition.  While I struggled to let it go, she moved on.  She moved on to writing stories and making up stories.  She and Wade were candy superheros at her brother's baseball game, fighting crime with their secret weapon--Swedish Fish-- and her pink cape/scarf/headdress.  

She came over to me at the game to talk.  I thought it might be about our my somewhat emotional afternoon, but it wasn't.

"Do you know how to read comic books?," she asked/challenged, handing me a comic book she just happened to have in her bag.

I read with gusto and she replied, "Not bad mom, not bad at all, for a grown up."

There's just something about Lucy.  She's magic and light, wit and wonder.  

I'm madly in love with this little girl, but that doesn't mean I know how to parent her.  It doesn't mean I know how to not put all my fears and my own issues onto her.  It just means that I love her and I'll keep trying to fill her up with love.  I will honor her sense of adventure and joy and imagination.  

But I will still try to get her to audition next year. I mean right?

Do you have kids that go to the beat of their own drums?  Do you feel conflicted between letting them be themselves and pushing them to try new things?


  1. Do I have. Child that beats to his own drum? Hell-to-the YES
    My almost high schooler is VERY smart (no bias Mom speak... Others have confirmed this). However he will NOT do homework. 2 years of practically failing classes because No homework plus A's on exams till = failing. Bribery, Consequences, lectures, tutors, not being accepted into a program he really wanted to go to... Nothing has opened his eyes. Next week Summer School... Hopefully that will motivate him.
    I'm at a total loss. Only good advice we get is "it'll click"... Ummmm we need it to click NOW befor he starts high school in the fall and these failures ruin his future. Sorry to go on :-(

    1. Oh man, I get it. I get it because I see it in my own kids and I was that kid. I agree it'll click, it just may not look like how others click. Do you know what I mean?
      It's so hard as the parent isn't it? I'm thinking about you Moe and giving you a big virtual hug.

  2. I don't have any kids, but one of my boyfriends brothers reminds me of your daughter in a way as well as Maureen's son. He has this ambition and drive for everything he is passionate about but he is like none other and he lives in his own world. He just finished his Freshman year in high school and struggled with his classes. I am not sure yet if he passed his Spanish class or not. The problem with him is the same as Maureen he just doesn't really do his homework. We haven't been able to get it through to him that he needs exceptional grades to go to MIT. We will see. He has 3 years left to turn things around.

    1. I hope he finds a good balance and less struggle over the next three years and beyond. It's so hard to watch I know.

  3. I do have that child, but she has found a place in soccer, among other things. She walks to the beat of her own drum, but is also happy to be part of a group. Everything that is good and awesome about her is in spite of me, I know that. I think Lucy will find what she needs when she needs it. Right now, that confidence she has in herself is amazing and a gift. Enjoy it and try not to worry! (I know that is impossible)

    1. You are so right, the confidence is amazing and gift. And you are also right it seems impossible not to worry, but I will try. Thanks for reading, relating and commenting Nicole!

  4. "I'll just keep trying to feel her up with love." As parents that really is all we can ever do.

    1. amen, but it's tough sometimes isn't it. Thanks for reading Jennifer!

  5. I'm that way with Henry, too. If he had a choice, he wouldn't do anything organized, except swimming lessons. I don't know how to deal either, but we can only do our best, right?

    1. Keep trying to do our best is all we can do. It's the whole Dori lesson right? "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..." and the Marlin lesson of letting them do their thing and letting go. Oh my gosh, Nemo is such a great lesson in parenting!

  6. I can SO relate to the feeling like you're supposed to challenge/push/pressure. That feeling that you're being proactive on their behalf is a good one, as a mom, for me. I know it's motivated by this feeling of making up for things MY mom didn't do - paving ways for my girls that she didn't pave for me, doing it better, getting it right, etc.

    And, basically, I don't have any helpful advice.
    This is something I struggle with on the daily.

    BUT! But. If we spin it a different way, we can see that WOW Lucy knows herself - way better than I did at that age. She knows her boundaries and she's enforcing them with someone who is so important to her - YOU! That's big, dude. Real big.

    1. Jen, you helped me make peace with my last week. No joke, in one comment you totally got everything I said and gave me a new way to look at my sweet SuperLucy.
      THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

  7. My Isabelle (5) has no interest in sports at all. Which is fine, right? But is it?? I didn't have any interest in them when I was little and my mom never made me do anything physical. I ended up always being picked last in gym class and to this day can't throw a ball to save my life. As an adult I wonder if things would be different if she had just signed me up. I'm hoping that Isabelle "comes around" and changes her mind soon but in the meantime...I worry!