Thursday, May 29, 2014

The antithetical tiger-mum

Without a doubt, Jordan has developed my athletic genes. She is a kinesthetic learner and is keenly aware of how her body moves. That means that she excels in sport and for someone just shy of 7 years old, her body is muscle packed. In every activity that she does, her teachers or coaches have made the same request of me; put her in more classes so that she can improve faster and do more. It has put me into a dilemma.

On the one hand, I am very proud and impressed that she is doing so well. In ballet, she has a great feel for the music and she moves instinctively; something I never, ever achieved. At gymnastics, the ballet shows right down to her toes and her suppleness and strengths have her swinging off high bars. When asked to straighten her leg or lift up her hip, her muscles do as her mind dictates.If she did more, she would definitely be better and perhaps compete, gaining all the experience of competing seriously in a sport. I'm being realistic, she's not going to be a Darcey Bussell or a Gabrielle Douglas but she could do it seriously enough to be active in our local circuits.

On the other hand, I worry about starting her too soon. She isn't even 7 yet and here we are talking about her doing ballet or gym multiple time a week after hours. On top of that, there is 6 hours of school and homework to contend with. Perhaps it's very Un-Singaporean for me to say this and perhaps I might change my tune later on but I can't think of packing her days back to back. I've read too many articles about kids that don't play enough and parents who schedule their kids' time down to the last minute of the day to be able to do this in good conscience. On top of that, I've seen how joyful she is when left to her own devices and I cannot bring myself to take that free joy from her. I suspect school will slowly sap that out of her and I'm not going to be party of it more than I can help it. 

At the same time, having had every single muscle from hips down injured chronically or dramatically because of the running and ballet years have made me very wary of subjecting my kids to physcially demanding training especially when they are so young and so lacking in fundamental strength. 

So, I did the best thing I could think of. I sought out my own track coach from days of yore. Of all people, she would understand why I was so torn. And after I left school, she went on to coach track in the primary school circuit and is still very involved in the training of young athletes for Singapore.

Her insight was very helpful. She told me about little kids whose parents engaged coaches as they used to engage private tutors. This was to make sure their kid stood the best chance to get into a secondary school based on a sport. She told me about how the kids burnt out, hated the sport and then became weird once you factored in the pubescent hormones. She assured me that if Jordan was kinesthetically gifted, she wasn't going to lose it as long as she kept active and the most important thing to do is to expose her, in the gentlest of ways and in whatever ways we are able to, to different activities. 

It offered me a great amount of comfort to hear that from her. I think, deep inside me, I already knew all that and I needed someone in authority to tell me I wasn't wrong. I didn't want to think that if I didn't put her to the junior squad or whatever rubbish that I was depriving her of something.    

And then, when I see her twirl and leap in an open field or dance without any sort of inhibition, I know I have made the right decision for now. 's Talkative Thursdays


  1. Shereen, you are certainly going the right thing by her.

  2. is that the desigual shirt?! if it is, i'm glad she's willing to wear it!!! looks great!!

    1. Yes it is! I love it! I wish I could find more for her!

  3. I love how she is so uninhibited!