As I was sitting outside on the back porch thinking this morning, I came across a memory that meant a lot to me and also predicts a child's outcome to some extent. I once told the story of my childhood musical decision in 3rd grade. My parents ushered me into a large gymnasium at Hagan Elementary School littered with every instrument from the ukulele at one end to the xylophone at the other. When my siblings made the same walk of choice, they chose the violin and the flute respectively.
Then there was little old scrawny 8 year old me. I passed with a huge smile on my face every instrument. "this one?" my father would say. "How about this one?"
Said my mother. Nope. I walked and walked until I stood in front of my idolized snare drum. While I cannot imagine what my parents were thinking, their faces did not utter disapproval. They were probably thinking, "please Lord no, not this loud monster of an instrument". Intrinsically, they probably knew this was going to happen because it fit my personality.
So fo the next many years, I lugged that heavy case with my orange glittery snare drum in it. It was a burden for me to carry as I was really scrawny. However, desire really trumps any limitation on size and strength. My music teachers taught me the boring painful basics of the flam paradiddle and drum roll. I practiced at home and my parents never complained. I guarantee that it was not fun to hear. Think about that parenting message. Fantastic. "son, do what you do, we support you".
Years went by and I took up a full set and still they said to go for it. Now we have cymbals and 3 more drums. Racket was my middle name. By 9th grade, for various reasons, mostly teacher related, I learned to not enjoy school music lessons anymore shifting my life to self learning, harder, but more rewarding. And yet, my parents watched.
Years have past and believe it or not, I still play with a smile on my face thinking of that little scrawny kid allowed to carry a heavy drum by himself onto a bus to achieve a goal self derived.
For me, this personal story illustrates the gift of parental support for a self derived decision despite the parental sacrifice of peace and quiet. Further more, there was no mention of my ability or lack there of to carry said drum to and from school. It is an amazing gift to let a child derive their own path to success.
When your child asks for something that is not aligned with your sense of whatever it is you believe, remember that support and allowing independence is critical to success and follow through. The choice/project won't always make it to the end of the line, but it will always have a chance to do so.
And frankly, that is enough!