Day 30. 161 pages, 58,131 words.
Here’s an interesting little dilemma we faced recently in the Hatboy household. I’m interested in hearing what my blog-commenting brethren and sistren think about it. First, though, a disclaimer.
I think I’ve made it fairly clear that, in almost every case, I consider the opinions of non-parents just as valid as those of parents – and this includes opinions on the question of raising children. I know, the instinctive dumb-twitchy-parent thing to do is to reject the point of view of non-parents because “they have no idea”. Well, guess what? Parents have no fucking clue either, chuckles.
When it comes to parenting and child-raising advice, there are exactly two levels of opinion:
- Mr. and Mrs. Hatboy’s opinion about how to raise our kids.
- Everybody else in the entire fucking world’s opinion about how to raise anything.
This applies, obviously, to every parent in the world. Yeah, unfortunately, it also applies to the dumbarses. That’s why the world is a mess. Whatchagonnado?
For example (and the fact that this paragraph follows on from my thought about dumbarses is purely coincidental of course, that’s just how this flowed out), when it comes to how to raise little dreamelingling, there is the opinion of Mr. and Mrs. dreameling, and then the opinion of everyone else in the world, regardless of whose kids they happen to be structuring their opinion around. “This is what I do with my own kids” is a great way to start an opinion, as is “this is what I think I’d want to do with my own kids”, “this is what I do with my puppy”, and “this is what I think you could try with your kids”.
All equally valid.
Now, I’m not saying this to suggest that your opinions are irrelevant. Far from it. They all provide information and that information is something I want to use to develop my thinking. I’m saying there are no wrong answers here. I mean, if your answer is “give her a gun and let her start shooting people” … that’s a wrong answer. But I’ll be making up my own mind. And in this case, the issue is basically already dealt with so the exercise is more theoretical anyway.
Alright. No, that was just the disclaimer. The actual dilemma is here.
In recent weeks, Wump transferred to a new one-evening-per-week dance class. She’d been in one last year and had enjoyed it, but then that class ended and she had to start a new one.
She revealed, after a few weeks, that she wasn’t enjoying herself, because she didn’t know anybody. There had been a girl there in the first lesson whom she had liked, but then that girl had stopped coming, leaving Wump not knowing anyone. Most of the kids in the class, for context, apparently go to the same school / daycare / afternoon club, so a lot of them know each other and Wump is a bit left out.
This made her sad enough that she wanted to quit.
Now, I was definitely aware of the damage I could do with basically any solution I offered to this. I usually drive her out to class, help her get ready, hang around (and write on my phone) while she has her class and then drive her home, so I saw a little bit of the pre- and post-class interaction.
I suggested, first, that she try to make new friends in the class, because she did exactly the same thing at school and now she can’t turn around without having some new friend she just spontaneously bonded with (usually, amazingly, some kid or other who didn’thave any friends and who nobody ever suspected could be encouraged to socialise). It takes a little while, and an hour a week is a difficult exposure to develop friendship over. But still, I suggested she try.
Wump said she couldn’t, because she was too shy to make new friends.
I hear you scoffing, everyone who knows Wump even slightly. And you’re right, she’s not shy at all. She wants to go out and make friends with everybody in the world, and I don’t want to be the one who breaks that part of her. However, I figured there was probably more going on, and the relative loneliness she must be feeling as the other girls all seem to know each other … well, I guess I’m not so old that I’ve forgotten that feeling.
So I told her, a couple of weeks running, to just try to talk with some of the other girls. I did my best (at Wump’s request) to point out a few of the girls who were already sort-of-kind-of talking to her and trying to make comms contact. I even told the teacher (again, at Wump’s request) what was going on and asked her to maybe encourage some group activities and chatter, but I didn’t want to be That Interfering Parent.
All in all, I figured this was just one of those things kids have to go through. You don’t quit, you work through it and either develop social skills or grow to be comfortable with your own company. I’ve done both, in different situations. It’s sort of important to learn, I think, in order to get along in the real world.
At the same time, I knew that was harsh and of course I wanted to do what I could to protect Wump from the sort of unhappiness she was expressing. Sooner or later, I knew, we would just be forcing her to go to a class she hated, and that would make her not want to dance anymore.
Anyway, it didn’t work out and she told us she still wanted to quit after the most recent lesson (yesterday). She said, and I quote, “I have so many friends, I’m sure if I went to a different class there would be somebody I know in it.”
As it happens, not entirely far from the truth. Mrs. Hatboy found a ballet class that one of Wump’s best friends from daycare and school is attending, and signed Wump up for that class instead. I guess we’ll see how that goes.
Personally, my main concerns are:
- That Wump’s friend might happen to enjoy having an activity not involving Wump, that she can enjoy without Wump’s well-meaning interference and possible queen-bee-usurping.
- That caving before this pressure from Wump-aged-six might set a precedent for her deciding to quit anything and everything just because it takes a bit of effort to start, and us enabling it.
These remain to be seen, of course, and I’m sure I’m doing the classic Worried Dad thing where I look too much at the worst-case and make way too much of a big deal out of it.
I hope Wump’s little friend is as happy as Wump is to have her join the class, and I hope that Wump’s ability to socialise and her love of dancing don’t suffer as a result of this concession to her unhappiness.
Oh well, that was the dilemma and the current situation re: its solution.
Feel free to weigh in now.