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Aug 31, 201808:00 AM
Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

Growth Experiences

Watching from the sidelines as kids develop their talents and passions.

I’ve written before about whether you can let your kids quit something.

I still don’t have a firm stance on it, to be perfectly frank. I let Georgia quit both ballet and cheerleading – she wasn’t enjoying them – but made her stick it out as Tinker Bell No. 1 in Southern Rep Camp’s Peter Pan this summer despite her stage fright. (And she rocked it, obviously.)

Georgia is my sweet tiny baby pumpkin face, though, and I probably let her get away with too much. I obviously make her do things she doesn’t want to do – all she ever really wants to do is watch weird kids’ shows on Netflix while eating Nutella by the spoonful – but in terms of extracurricular activities, I just couldn’t bring myself to force her to continue conscripted pliés.

With Ruby, it’s been a different process and one that I, as a mom, find pretty exciting because it’s all part of watching her discover her talents and passions. Her first instinct was to rush headlong into everything: soccer, volleyball, softball, basketball, lacrosse, cheerleading, drama, choir, speech and debate. I’ve supported her in all of this, sat on uncomfortable bleachers in unfamiliar gyms trying to follow what was going on and clapping when everyone else clapped, bought costumes and uniforms and sports equipment that now clutters my attic, cried during her Shakespearian monologues, listen to her sing “The 12 Days of Christmas” until I thought my ears would bleed.

But now, she begins the second phase of this process – discerning which of these activities she wants to pursue on a deeper level and which she is going to have to leave by the wayside because of time constraints. As she gets older, the commitment required is greater, and so she simply can’t do all of these things (and realistically, she is clearly better at some than others). She has already abandoned soccer and lacrosse and is about to make the difficult choice to give up volleyball in order to focus on cheerleading and the school play and – the new arrival on her radar – roller derby.

It’s hard for me to know whether my role should be to encourage her to make her own choices or to guide her toward the things I feel she’s better at. Well, no, that’s not true. I know my job as a parent is to let her make her own decisions; it’s just hard for me to stick to that. If she wants to commit herself to basketball, even if I feel like she’s better at speech and debate, that can’t be my call, but it’s hard for me to watch her struggle instead of succeed. (And there is a point at which you have to be as honest with your child as you can about his or her actual skillset.)

One of the things I love about Georgia is how much like me she is. We’re introverts who prefer to stay home, we love carbs, we’re anxious and risk-averse and nonconfrontational, we have to sleep with our feet uncovered. One of the things I love about Ruby is how different from me she is. She’s an extrovert who loves sports and public speaking and parades and parties and crowds. Another major difference, and this is a very good thing, is that Ruby is far more comfortable with failure than I ever was or ever will be. She is a risk-taker who is willing to be bad at something until she gets good at it.

I love watching her grow. I love watching them both grow.

Seeing them unfold as the people they are is the greatest privilege; sitting on my hands during that process is the greatest challenge.

Although Georgia really is an expert at eating Nutella.

 

Friends with kids ages 6 to 17: If roller derby is something your kid might dig, please like Crescent City Crushers on Facebook to learn more. There's a meet-up on Sept. 9, and Ruby Bruiseday and I will definitely be in attendance.

 

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Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

about

        Eve is further proof, if any is needed, that New Orleans girls can never escape the city. After living here since the age of 3 and graduating from Ben Franklin High School, Eve moved to Columbia, Mo., where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Missouri School of Journalism and became truly, unhealthily obsessed with grammar.She had originally intended to strike out to New York City and work in the cutthroat magazine industry there, but after Katrina, Eve felt a strong pull to return home, to her roots, her family, her waterlogged and struggling city – and a much more forgiving work atmosphere that would allow her to skip a routine of everyday makeup and size 0 designer label business suits and enjoy the occasional cocktail or three with an absurdly fattening lunch. She moved back home in January 2008 and lives in Mid-City with her two daughters, Ruby and Georgia; her stepson, Elliot; and her husband, Robert Peyton.Eve blogs about the joys and struggles of living in post-Katrina New Orleans, the unique problems and delights of raising a child in such a diverse and challenging city – including her experiences with the public education system – and her always entertaining and extremely colorful family.Eve has won numerous writing awards, including the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Gold Medal, the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for column-writing and Press Club of New Orleans awards for her Editor’s Note in New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and for this blog, most recently winning the award for "Best Feature Affiliated Blog."She welcomes comments, advice, empty flattery, recipes, drink invitations and – most especially – grammatical or linguistic debates.

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