One of my favorite books about raising kids is by Malcolm Gauld, President of the Hyde Schools. (The Biggest Job We’ll Ever Have, Scribner.) His ideas focus on developing the character of our children, then letting go of the outcome, which, for the over-achieving-type-A parent is, believe me, far more difficult than it sounds.
If I thought you had several hours, I’d recap the book here. But, hey, you want to get out and get some fresh air today, right? So here’s one thing I think we can all take from his ideas: our kids need to try something outside of their comfort zone. It’s easy to sign up for soccer when you’re good at it, but who wants to try sailing? Not my kids, that’s for sure. Nonetheless…
Every summer, it’s the same. “Whyyyyy, mom? We already took sailing. We know how to sail!”
And every summer, I sign them up anyway.
It’s the learning curve, I think, that throws them. None of us likes to look silly in front of our peers. I completely understand that it’s a difficult proposition for them. We don’t own a sailboat and they’re not at the top of the class. But how many opportunities do they have to understand that feeling? My kids are good at lots of things, and I think that’s great. But I want them to understand the struggle of learning something new, of having to work harder than some of the people around them. It creates empathy. It helps them learn to persevere. It builds character. I hope.