I’m not sure that I’ve mentioned our infamous skate-ramp in any previous posts…
And yes, you read correctly – we have a skate ramp.
It’s a half-pipe. It’s in our back yard.
We painted it green – in an attempt to camouflage it.
This was, as it turns out, unsuccessful.
The skate-ramp came about as our 5-year-old – since he was 4, has been learning to skate.
And by some genetic miracle (i.e. he must have some uneven distribution of talent genes from Kevin, his father) is quite good at it.
Thus my husband decided building a skate ramp was the best way of encouraging him. Kevin even took up skateboarding so he & Ethan had something to share.
At first I thought this was madness.
I should have stuck with my initial gut instinct that came in the form of a shriek cry “over my dead body”….
Then I listened & after some standard questioning: How much will this cost? How big will it be? What will we do with it when we move? (If you’ve read my “About page” you’ll know we are rather transient –hence the “Urban Gypsy” inspiration), I relented.
Begrudgingly. …. although in hindsight I think Kevin got the ball rolling before the final sign off from me (note to self – maintain greater control – perhaps through intimidation.).
As it turns out, this ramp has been well – a potentially misguided mistake. If I’m really honest.
In essence, we now have a very expensive slide in our backyard & I do doubt whether this giant monstrosity will come with us on our next journey.
I still live in hope that I am proved wrong. Once the initial novelty wore off, Ethan, bless him, apparently decided that he either needs an audience; the perfect temperature; padding that doesn’t itch; more energy; no homework …. basically anything that he doesn’t have at that moment as a justification not to skate
Despite the shine wearing off, admittedly Ethan still attends his skate lessons which he enjoys & looks forward to attending. A return to the local skate park this week has also been at the request of Ethan which is a first in a while. The passion has mysteriously returned which to be quite honest, I am hugely relieved about.
Perhaps my hope can grow.
The moral to this particular story is simply this: project manage more efficiently; think before over-indulge your children on every interest they take up & keep your husband in line with your gut instinct.
All morals aside though, one thing that has surfaced which I seek counsel on, if you will – is the concept of inner motivation or self-direction.
As we watch Ethan, my husband & I have more or less concluded that he has not yet developed that sense of inner motivation which allows an individual to develop a skill/passion/interest independently. Even when he has a natural ability and its fun.
I realize at age 5 (& if I was smart I might seek to read a book on this topic & not need to post such contemplation) that developmentally particular facet may not be age-appropriate ….(common sense may also yet prevail here).
I realize too that truly understanding the equation: time + consistent practice + pushing your own boundaries = skill development & improvement (more often than not anyway) is something we develop over time.
But as a parent I wonder – isn’t it my job to subtly brainwash this into his wee mind & thereby behaviors And if so, how do we do this subtle brainwashing and make it fun & “positive”?
You should know at this point – I am not a big proponent of over-celebrating basic expectations. I’m not sure we need a song & dance about using simple manners or completing age-appropriate tasks – like eating with a fork; putting on our shoes at the required time & so on & so forth.
Sarcastic as I sound, I’m being honest – I’m not sure praising kids for ordinary tasks is necessary. Yes be encouraging of their compliant, positive behavior in general – but really, celebrating every single step they take – once that is, they have passed the age appropriate milestone achievement?….( Now don’t get me wrong, as an example – I openly admit jumping up & down when Ethan learnt to tie his laces at age 4- who wouldn’t – one less morning task right? – but to do so every single day now a year later? Not so much..)
I guess we do celebrate & encourage every skateboarding step currently with Ethan, as he needs it – his confidence can falter (& if by the way you’ve ever stood at the top of a ramp & thought to slide down it upon what is essentially a plank of wood with wheels, you too may see “dropping in” as quite an achievement at 4 years of age… at 34 years of age I wouldn’t even think about such a ridiculous action).
But do we do this in a desperate attempt to keep him interested in something? Are we getting the praise “right”?
Do we do it because we’ve invested time & energy already ourselves?
Do we do it because we want him to behave appropriately in a lesson?
I feel like I should be asking myself these questions.
I know for a fact, I am ridiculously proud of him & his efforts & more importantly, I really do want him to enjoy it. This has been his “thing” so far. His one thing he has consistently turned to (well, maybe he’s been inconsistently consistent).
I really do also wish for him to learn that giving something up the first time you are bored or challenged makes it harder to pick it up again when your interest returns.
Is this on & off attitude of late simply age-appropriate – is it something he’ll outgrow or a fundamental of his personality? How do we support him, guide him & offer opportunity to learn about life but keep our focus on the fact we have a 5 year old & we just want him to have fun in something while he has the luxury of time to do so?
In truth my natural gut response is simply – I should just sit back & just chiiillll out.
I mean after all – the kid is five. Five.
The rest of life, the hard work stage where it’s not always just about coloring in the lines… I guess there’s plenty of time for being drilled & beaten into submission.
And wasn’t I saying something earlier about following gut instinct?