When my daughter was a baby, it was quickly apparent that she was going to be an active kid. Even in the womb she was rarely still. I felt her stretch and kick constantly and I had a feeling she would be that way “on the outside” too.
Claire is now nearly seven years old and my initial feelings have been right all along. As a baby, she hit all of her physical milestones early and while I didn’t think it meant she was Super Baby, I did wonder if the fact that she went from walking at nine months to practically jogging at ten meant anything for her future. Turns out that it did- since pre-school, she has been running like a gazelle with little effort and now loves sports of all kinds.
That said, the world at large does not always seem to understand why my daughter plays baseball (and basketball, swimming and starting this fall, soccer) instead of taking dance or gymnastics. I cannot tell you how many times over the last several years I have been asked by people if she takes dance and when I tell them she does not I get varied responses but it mostly boils down to “OH, really? Why not??” I will say- I hear this mostly from moms with all boys. I have more than one in my life that lament not having a daughter to put in hair bows and enroll in ballet classes but I am just not that girl and most importantly, neither is Claire. There is positively nothing wrong with wanting to do those things for your daughter but there is also nothing wrong with not wanting to. Especially if your little girl doesn’t give a flip either.
That said, I did have her in dance class for a total of two months the fall she turned four. I caved to the pressure and decided I might be doing her a disservice by not at least letting her try. She did fine- fell in line with the rest of the girls and listened attentively- but she was not very jazzed by it and after adding up the costs, I decided it was not worth our time and money. So I pulled her. She shrugged and kept playing dollhouse when I told her and then never asked me about it again. I knew we had made the right choice.
I will say that I had some concerns initially with enrolling her in sports where she would be the only girl or one of very few. I belong to a parenting forum and have read several posts over the years from moms annoyed that their young son’s sports teams were “mostly girls” or if they had even a few girls- as if that devalued their son’s experience somehow. As much as I am all “kick ass, girl power” I have to admit that I’ve always felt almost defensive about Claire participating in traditionally boy-centric sports because I didn’t want other parents disappointed by her presence. I am not stupid- I know there will always be other parents that might feel that a girl could bring down the level of play but now, I truly do not care. Worst case, there might be whispers in the stands. Best case, (as what happened this past baseball season), she will show everyone that girls are MORE than capable of playing these male-dominated sports and basically, rocking it. This season, it was the other moms who cheered the loudest when she was up to bat and it was awesome (teeny mom brag- she only struck out once all season- so proud).
I know the way she fits in and her skill level being on par with the boys will likely change over the next few years as the boys grow bigger and stronger but for now, she is where she belongs. When I saw her blithely doing the moves in ballet class her disinterest was palpable. When I saw her stride to home plate for the first time with her bat swinging at her side and a gleam in her eye I knew she was absolutely where she belonged. You can tell by her face that she knew it too.
(Image: Pete Pahham/Shutterstock)