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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Want a Ballerina

When Nico was two years old, we did a Kid Rock class. He loved the drums but really showed no interest. We did a Little Learners class and again, he played with other kids but he would gravitate toward the balls or anything round and throw them or get another kid to play catch with him. He was 2. I wanted him to love to draw and want to read or at least want me to read to him which at home he did but not in that class. When he was three, I signed him up for Little Sportsters. I already told the story of the hockey stick under the "Happy Birthday, Nico" post but what is interesting to me now is how at three, he already knew he wanted to play football, basketball and baseball. He kept picking up the ball and throwing it in soccer and lost interest very quickly. Soccer was the first thing we could sign him up for so at 5, Leo signed him up. He played one year in Bartlett and one year in Winfield and not playing again wasn't a hard decision for him. Nico went to a birthday party that was a home run hitter party. We got a call from the dad of the kid whose birthday it was. He was one of the T-ball coaches and he wanted Nico on his team. That's how Nico's baseball experience started. He has since played in several All Star games, won a championship, had the heartache of not making a team (2 years in a row), winning a skills competition at a camp, and the joy of making 2 different travel teams. He asked me from the time he was four, if he could play basketball and could be found on our deck in front of his Little Tikes basketball hoop most hours of the day. He asked to play football from the time he first played in the Little Sportsters class. I have sat in the stands enduring people yelling, "He's cheating! He's out of the box! He's cheating!" during basketball (He was six! He didn't even know what the box was!) and kids pummeling him in flag football because the no tackle rule was not enforced and he was the quarterback. I'm sure it looked like we were pushing him into tackle football too soon but after getting slammed at a game, I walked over to him to see if he was okay and he said, "Now can I play tackle so I can have the pads on?" He was right and we said yes. My dad was an athlete and loved sports. Leo was an athlete and loved sports. I never assumed Nico would be and I wonder all the time: Is it in his genes? Did he see something or do something when he was little to make him love it? What is it that drives him to play the sports he does?

With Tommy, the mystery will always be, would he have loved baseball, basketball and football if Nico didn't? He was pretty good at soccer but everytime he scored a goal, he'd run over to me and say, "Now can I play football?" I had to explain to him several times that he wasn't old enough yet. He's nine and has so much drive that I hope he attacks everything in life the way he does sports. When he has a game, he asks me from the time he wakes up until an hour before he is leaving, "Is it time for me to get dressed yet?" During football season, he regularly walks around with his helmet on and he can be seen begging Nico to take him outside to practice. With raising twins, I know I didn't have time to foster his love of sports so I wonder, like Nico, where did it come from?

When I had Isabella, it was different. I had dreams of recitals and tutus. I couldn't wait until she was 3 and I could sign her up for her first class. She looked so freaking adorable in her leotard. I watched from the two way mirror and the little girls were so cute. She did ballet for three years and then came to me and said she wanted to do gymnastics instead. I admit I was a little sad. She took a session off, she did gymnastics and cried every single day. She hated the instructor who when she was afraid to go on the big balance beam would tell Belle to go to the "baby beam". Belle innocently said to me, "I want to do gymnastics but I hate the balance beam, the bars and the vault." Hmmmm... That session ended and she said she wanted to do dance again. I signed her up for ballet and after she said she really wanted to do hip hop dancing. Her friends were doing it so she was signed up for both. Those were her last dance classes because we went to a high school basketball game that my dad was coaching. She couldn't tear her eyes away from the cheerleaders and at halftime when they did their flips and back handsprings, she lit up and said, "That's the gymnastics I want to do!" And so a cheerleader was born. Now, if I had my say, I would steer her anywhere else but there. I was a cheerleader and though I loved cheering, cheerleading, like other competitive sports can be ugly with unfairness.

My point is that I never forced the kids to do the activities they do. I don't live vicariously through them because I never aspired to be a baseball, football or basketball player and if I had it to do over again, I would have tried out for poms. If there comes a time when they don't want to do them, I will miss watching them but it is their life and their choice. I say this knowing full well that with Gia, I will sign her up as soon as I can for ballet and from there, I'll watch her shake her tush and encourage her because this time around...I want a ballerina.

Disclaimer: This post is just in fun. I will encourage Gia in whatever she wants to do whether it is writing, reading, drawing, soccer, softball, volleyball, tennis, gymnastics, dance or cheerleading or just being the happiest Gia she can be.


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