Balancing the buffet of a child’s interests

My 10-year-old just informed me of her desire to play soccer. She’s never shown the slightest interest in sports before. In fact, she’s been pretty dang solidly disinterested. Once she told me that the only sport she was any good at was dodge ball. That’s because, she explained, the point is to run away from the ball, which is her “natural instinct.” Even so, she doesn’t like dodge ball. So this soccer thing is a change. And that’s the same.

You see, the only thing my child ALWAYS wants to do is to try something new. She loved ballet, for a while. Then she was into piano. She’s taken drama, gymnastics, ceramics and violin. She’s dabbled in jazz dance, Mexican folklórico dance, horseback riding and accordion. She’s in choir. Last I heard, she wants to be a herpetologist or a zoologist “who knows how to sing.” OK.

Two years ago, her plan was to live in the country with her horses. She would have a piano in the stables so she could play for the horses “to relax them.” When she was 5, she wanted to be a famous dancer with a husband who would stay home on their farm and take care of the animals while she was on tour.

Of course, we’re crazy-lucky to live in a town where all of these interests can be supported. That’s pretty cool. But sometimes I struggle with balancing her desire to try new things and my desire to see her push through difficulties (such as boredom or higher expectations) and experience a level of mastery. But I can’t practice for her, so she has to want it, too, at least a little bit. Plus, I’m no expert at being an expert. I love to sample new things. I mean, my favorite meal is “assorted appetizers.” Hmmm … wish me luck. I think I’m gonna need it.