Quitting the dream

I am trying to patient with the fact that my son wants to quit swimming. Never mind that he seemed to like it, actually made some friends in the neighborhood, that the zen of it seemed to calm him, that he wanted to emulate Michael Phelps. Swimming is hard. Too hard. Michael Phelps he is not. But I wonder, at what point do you let a kid quit? Do you put up with tears before every practice? Force them to do something they clearly do not want to do? I wonder what Michael’s mom did? Surely Michael wanted to quit once in a while. Was she patient, letting him make up his own mind, or did she force him, enduring the tears. I don’t think I have the heart to endure tears. I guess I’m gonna let him quit. But it makes me sad. Kind of feels like the death of a dream, something that seems too soon for a 9 year old.

11 Comments

  1. anniegirl1138 January 29, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Tears is beyond the normal just wanting to quit because something is work.

    In the end, even children should be able to direct their lives to or away from dreams. At nine, it isn’t as if he can’t pick up swimming again someday. Perhaps he is just burnt out? Needs a break?

  2. dadshouse January 29, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Is he quitting because he doesn’t like swimming? Or because of something he doesn’t like about practice? I.e. maybe another kid is bugging him.

    My daughter loved soccer her first year. Next year she didn’t want to sign up. We forced her to, because we remembered how much she loved it the year before. Now she’s been playing for 11 years, and starting on varsity for her high school team.

    I know that’s different than a child crying and wanting to quit. But sometimes there are other factors at play.

  3. Abigail January 29, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    With my son, there is always an element of him needing to control his own surroundings, which inevitably include mine.

    I don’t think there were any issues (bullying) going on to prompt him to quit. It was just hard. And the friends he made weren’t enough. The meets scared him into a panic.

    I realize that some of my motivation to push him were purely selfish. I had friends (real live adults!) at the pool that I got to see twice a week, who now I won’t get to. Given that I spend inordinate amounts of time behind my computer, alone at home, this was a big deal for me. I know. I gotta get a life. Its time to join a gym or something.

    Single parenting is fraught with all kinds of junk one could never have foreseen.

  4. Krisy January 30, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    That is always a toughie. As someone who made the Nationals Swim Team (in 1995) and then lost her place before getting on the plane for practice due to an injury, I understand.

    My daughter, who is four, has a real aptitude for swimming. It has been an internal struggle for me to encourage but not push her. I have to remember to let her do it on her own terms, like my parents did with me. Because they encouraged and didn’t push, I still to this day have a love for swimming.

    hang in there, remember that it has to be his dream, not ours, not matter how hard that may feel.

  5. Ann January 30, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Abigail I'm so glad I found you on Mom Bloggers Club. I'm down here in Portland :->
    I'm holding my Friday night "Virtual Girls Night Out" if you would like to stop by that would be great.
    Ann Again… and again
    http://annagain66.blogspot.com/

  6. Anonymous February 1, 2009 at 3:06 am

    I remember wanting to quit school so many times when I was growing up. My Dad told me to hang in there. He told me he could understand how I felt. And that He knew I was making sacrifices that other people didn’t seem to have to make. He told me I was making short term sacrifices for long term gains. To just hang in there and I’d be glad later on. I listened to him, and when I wanted to quit, I remembered his words. Kids need us to see farther than they can. I needed my Dad’s vision. I would have quit so many things without him. He helped me believe in myself. I can do it. I swim 4 times a week because of my Dad. He took me before school in the mornings. I still think of him every time I go. I hope your son hans in there…

  7. Veronica Lee February 1, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Hi and welcome to MBC! Your blog is awesome!

  8. Krisy February 1, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Abigail,

    I;m not sure if you saw this in the news or not, but I think this about sums up why kids should not be pushed into sports. http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/news/150832/14-times-Olympic-gold-medal-winner-Michael-Phelps-caught-with-bong-cannabis-pipe.html
    It’s about Michael Phelps and marijuana use and a previous DUI. As someone who knows, the regimented life that competitive swimmers at the nationals and Olympic levels, you have no life.

    1. Sam June 14, 2011 at 7:59 am

      No life? You have a great life and gain confidence, strong work ethic, and satisfaction of achievement. Just because Phelps smoked a bong diminishes none of this.

  9. Abigail February 1, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Krisy:

    Thanks for you post. It makes me feel both better and incredibly sad. Poor Michael has clearly never had a chance to just be a kid and party. Now, he’s over-the-top letting go. It really does make you stop and realize how badly pushing kids to excel at such high levels can really backfire.

    That sad part is, its such a let down for all those little boys, like Carter, who looked up to him. That’s really who I am sad for.

    Well, once again, I am reminded that I have to trust my kids to know what’s best for them (well sometimes anyway :))

    Thanks for the post.
    Abby

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