Last week, Ellis's school held an activity fair, where students could learn about all the different clubs and activities they could participate in. It was like a candy store for Ellis full of interesting things he could do: chess club, Lego league, cub scouts, and Suzuki violin. Now I'm sitting here with a stack of informative handouts trying to figure out if we can reasonably do all of these things in addition to Aikido, piano lessons, and track in the spring. He can certainly do some, but maybe not all. What do I know? I have always been one of those people that enthusiastically bites off more than I can chew.
As a general rule with the kids the activities they've engaged in have been based on their interests. As Ellis gets older, that rule becomes more complicated. Should we limit the number of things he can do at one time? Should I try to help him have balance in the things he picks (e.g., so far he hasn't been much of a sports guy)? Should I encourage him to put more effort into some things to really excel when he seems content to just participate?
I don't have an example from my own childhood to help me sort this out. As a kid, I was on my own to figure out what I wanted to do. My parents drove me to practices and attended performances, but I think they would have preferred me to have a more sedate schedule. A less self-directed kid than I would probably have languished in this environment. With Ellis, these decisions are also complicated by the shared custody arrangement and the land-mined terrain of my relationship with his father.
I suppose it helps to remember that this is Ellis's life and that I am here to support him and guide him in the direction he wants to go (as long as it's a healthy one). Up to this point, he's shown good judgment in creating balance for himself.