Perhaps you remember, four short weeks ago, that my daughter, La Gidg, had decided to take up tennis? I was delighted, and started to take her every Friday afternoon to tennis lessons with a couple of wonderful teachers at the country club in Santa Ponça. When Ollie’s parents were over for the week we all trotted down there to coo proudly as our firstborn attempted to knock balls over the net. In fact she seemed to be really enjoying it, so why on a whim did she decide this week that she’d had enough and would be quitting her tennis career before it had even begun? Because, it turned out, she thought it was too hard and wouldn’t be able to do it as well as the other kids.
Cue, from me, a lecture about quitting, i.e. don’t. Don’t give up, I urged her, keep going, you will get better every time you play the game and bit by bit you will be as good as the other kids who have been going to lessons for longer than you. But no, she was completely set in her mind that she would NOT be going back. Well, you can imagine I wasn’t pleased about this. Getting more het up by the second I launched into lecture number two about it being a metaphor for life and if I let her give up now then there where would it end? ‘You can’t quit something before you’ve learnt how to do it Gidg’.
As I write this I know I am going to sound like I’ve modelled myself on a Victorian parent, but I am actually modelling myself on my own parents. When I was growing up they refused to let me give in on anything, except the rabbit which I hadn’t wanted in the first place and had been given to me in lieu of a puppy when I was seven years old. We all breathed a sigh of relief when it made a break for it out of its hutch and returned to the wilds of Hertfordshire. So, although I know the fashion is to listen to your kids more and let them lead you it just doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t want my daughter to be the kind of kid who looks at something and decides it’s not worth attempting because it looks a bit tricky. So what with her intractability and mine we found ourselves at deadlock outside of the tennis court whilst the rest of the kids happily got on with their lesson. There was some discussion about toys and the bin, followed by demands for bribery and then finally a deal was brokered. It will probably work out pretty well on both sides, as she’s certainly developing her negotiation skills along with her hand-eye coordination. However this week at school, there is the opportunity to start ballet, do I dare even suggest it?
First published http://www.euroweeklynews.com/columns/vicki-mcleod/dont-kid-a-kidder.html