Learning Who My Daughter Is & When It’s Okay to Quit

A picture of Brecklee I remember taking and cherishing came to my mind last night as I emailed our dance studio instructor and unenrolled on behalf of Aspen, my 3-year-old. The photo was of my 2 1/2 year old Brecklee at her first dance recital. She looked the part and strutted her sugar plum costume perfectly. She embodied a modern day Shirley Temple, a nickname which I was given as a child as well. Ironically, this image popped up on my Facebook memory feed this morning.

5 years ago today - Brecklee's first dance recital
5 years ago today – Brecklee’s first dance recital

I was comparing the 2-year-old Brecklee to my now 3-year-old Aspen and imagined the journey Brecklee’s life has taken as her personality has continued to blossom. I considered my sweet Aspen and her bright and bold personality at 3, and I can’t help but be excited for her future as well.

During the summer we took Brecklee to several dance camps, and each time Aspen would cry or pout and ask when it would be her turn to go to “dance k’wass”.  I enrolled her in the youngster’s class that started this fall. She received a beautiful yellow and sparkling tutu for her birthday in August and insisted on a matching yellow hair bow to go with it. The first day of dance was amazing, she was certainly one of, if not the youngest girl in the room. She was learning to walk on her toes and balance her arms. After class she said “Let’s do it ‘gen mom!”.nov0054

The next four weeks were not the same. She was excited to put her dance clothes on at first, but then didn’t want to go to class. I tried coaxing her by asking if she just wanted to go watch, bribed her with a treat, basically all the parenting go-to hacks of getting children to do something we want them to do.

By the 4th week, we left dance after 10 minutes of her freaking out. Last week she didn’t want to go into class and wouldn’t participate even with me standing with her, and then yesterday happened.
After I picked her up from preschool in the morning we were on our way home. We hadn’t even mentioned dance yet, and she quietly said from the third row that she didn’t want to go to dance today. I asked her why and she said, “cuz I afraid.” The simple thought of going to dance was causing my little girl anxiety. I most certainly was not going to force it on her, but she had wanted it so bad and had loved it at first. But it seemed that it wasn’t what she had expected.

After talking with her about dance class and asking if she wanted to quit going, my husband and I unenrolled her and she was comforted when I told her she didn’t have to go to dance anymore.

A small part of me was sad. Not because I had some expectation that because I danced or because her sister dances I felt she needed to as well, but because she was excited to do something and experienced anxiety to the point that she wanted to stop.

Aspen and Brecklee are four years apart, they are both my mini-me’s in different ways, but are near polar opposites from each other. I can’t help but wonder and feel excited for Aspen to learn what she loves because she genuinely loves it, and not because it was a family tradition. She teaches us so much, breaks all the mainstream expectations of a little girl, and I absolutely love it. I can’t imagine what she will one day accomplish and I’m so excited she was brave enough, just at three, to tell me she was afraid and didn’t enjoy dance. And that is just fine!

I hate the word “quit”. I told my kids she wasn’t going to dance anymore and Brecklee immediately asked if she was “quitting”. I said yes. Aspen is going to quit having anxiety, she is going to quit doing something she doesn’t enjoy. Though I don’t support quitting because something might be hard or require hard work, sometimes ‘quitting’ can be a positive thing. But the word has a stigma that implies weakness. I call BS. 🙂 Quit the bad, embrace the good.nov0062

Now we get to introduce her to other things that she might enjoy, and I will continue to do it until she finds something she can be passionate about. Through dance Brecklee is able to express herself, through crafts and design I find my happy place, for Kellen it seems to be soccer, and for Rory it is basketball. Whatever that ‘thing’ is for Aspen, I hope she finds it and thrives in it. Everyone deserves to have a passion.

So, I’m just going to throw this out there, but what hobbies/passions do people in your life have? I love hearing the unique things people love to do.

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