"Mommy, I feel like I need to stop doing something." I stopped in my tracks knowing that this conversation was important. To validate her feelings and let her express herself. In that one moment I knew that I wanted to be open to hear all that she had to say and I knew that I wanted to respond the 'right way'. So I took a deep breath, said a quick prayer for guidance, and said,
"What do you mean Anna?" And she came over and we snuggled on the same chair.
"I feel like I'm too busy and I need to stop one of my things."
"Okay, you can stop anything you feel like. What do you think you need to quit?"
And then the most surprising things came out of her. "I just CAN'T quit viola!"
It's not that Anna doesn't like viola, but that comment surprised me. Maybe it was because she said it with such enthusiasm. She certainly meant what she said.
And surprisingly enough viola is the one activity that takes the most amount of time. (private weekly lesson, group weekly lesson, practice daily, and listening to her CD on top of it all) And it's hard, just plain hard work to learn a string instrument. So I was pleasently surprised that she said that. Happy not just that she didn't want to quit her instrument but because she finally showed a love for learning it, ownership of her skills, and wanting to learn more.
"So, what do you think you'd like to stop doing?" I asked her trying to not lead the conversation too much.
And she began to think through all of the things that keep her too busy. "Well, I can't quit church school. That's not an option."
"You're right, honey, you can't quit church school."
"Mabye I should stop doing art class" (long pause) "But that's on Saturday so I don't mind it. And besides I don't want to miss anything."
"I think I'll quit ballet."
(Pause here as my heart drops) But I try my best to smile and I said, "If you want to stop doing ballet after this year then you can."
And in a flash of a moment I knew I'd never see her on pointe. And oh to have those pink leotards gone.... be still my heart. But I knew and LOVED her honesty. I loved the fact that she trusted me enough to tell me that she was doing too much. And I was oh so proud of her in that conversation.
I held her tight and said, "Anna, I'm so proud of you for telling me what you're feeling. I'll help you figure all of this out. We need to finish our commitments this year and then you can make your decisions for next year over the summer. But I'm so glad you told me."
And then in the car the next day she said, "welllll, maybe I can just do ballet til I get to go on pointe" I smiled knowing that she is one little girl who loves life to the fullest.
It's not that I want my girls to "do everyting." I just want them to find "their thing". I felt so good knowing that Anna is beginning to sift through all of the things she's been exposed to and find "her thing."