Late yesterday afternoon I gazed sympathetically at my eight year old Ella as she wrestled with her inner turmoil. Her shoulders were hunched and her eyes welled with tears as she wailed, “I want you to make the choice FOORRRRR me”. I’ve been a mom long enough to know both the temptation and folly of taking a child up on this plea. It never ends up well.

“You need to make this choice for yourself but I can help you do that” I said putting on my “Good Parents Say This Sort Of Thing” hat.

Back and forth we volleyed with the pros and cons of her missing practice for one of her dance classes that evening.

In the Pro For Skipping It column: she didn’t want to go, she didn’t have friends in that class, all the other girls did and she felt left out.   My suggestions to combat that particular concern fell flat. The issue went deeper. She didn’t actually enjoy that class and she never had. It was similar to another class which was more fulfilling for her. She also didn’t like that she had to cut an activity she really enjoyed every other week to go to that class. And lastly she stated, it’s too long, it’s too many classes on one night, it’s just too much.  I get tired.”

I assured her that all of these concerns seemed valid to me and I would support her in her choice to skip the practice that night if she wanted to.  “But then I won’t be ready for the recital” she stated. “That’s true you won’t”, I agreed. “But you don’t have to be in the recital do you? In fact, you don’t even have to do that class. There’s nothing to keep you in that class if you aren’t enjoying it.”

She looked up stunned as if a whole new world of opportunities had opened up.  (In the conversation below I’m in italic)

“You mean I could just quit that class completely and not be in that recital number?”

“Yep. That’s an option.”

” But then I would be in fewer recital numbers.”

“That’s true too.”

“And I wouldn’t get a new costume for that number.

Indeed you would not.

I can’t decide. I can’t decide.

Ella this is a tough choice but we have to leave in 10 mins if you are going to make the class. You have a deadline on this choice.

I watched her work through this in her mind back and forth. Suddenly the penny dropped.

I don’t like doing this enough to keep doing it.  It’s not worth it.

So you are dropping out of that class?

Yes!

Congratulation you made a tough decision. That’s an important grown up skill. How do you feel?

I didn’t need to ask. Her entire body had responded affirmatively to making that choice. It looked like someone had thrown back the shades and the sun was shining into a previously dark room. The teary eyes brightened. She looked open and happy,  her body looked light. She even started to dance around.

“I feel so good! This was a great choice”

I think your wise self always knew that this was the right choice for you and it is happy for you too! Sometimes things are good for us for a while and then they aren’t. Then we get to make the choice to stop doing them. Isn’t that awesome?

“It was hard to make a choice so quickly but it was good! It’s like when you go to see a movie and you can’t decide between candy or popcorn. If you wait too long you might miss the movie”.

Wow. Damn the kid has aptitude for an analogy! I swelled with pride.

Yep. It’s exactly like that. Sometimes we miss the good part of our life because we sit in the lobby trying to make a choice between the perfect snack don’t we?

“It’s like in Frozen 2 mommy,  when you don’t know what to do just do the next right thing”. 

This concept is coming up a lot for me and the people I love lately. So many of us have a pathological need to be assured of the future. To see a path laid out and followed but as Joseph Campbell said (and I’m paraphrasing) if you can see the path laid out it isn’t your path (cos you didn’t lay it). Ok here’s how he said it. He has a lot of other good things to say on the subject.

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How about you? Is there a choice that you’ve been putting off making even though your inner self knows what is right for you? Are you standing at the snack counter vacillating anxiously while the main feature of your life plays on without you? Make that leap. Make the choice. Candy and popcorn are both good options in their own right. Just make a choice and move ahead with the next right step. It will all work out.  Don’t miss the movie!

 

 

 

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