My daughter just called from camp. She sounded so full of joy, it nearly blew me away. She loves it there. It's an arts camp and the kids who go to this particular camp are kids like her - a bit different, not the type of kids she came up against during her 4 summers at your typical Muskoka-type camp. She much prefers the quirky, creative personalities she has met there and it is wonderful knowing she feels so comfortable with this crowd.
She was OK at the other camp, but as the summers ticked by, she became less and less enthused about going. Not the outdoorsy, athletic type that revels in overnight canoe trips and sports field activities, she never really got into the groove up there. A good swimmer, she never even bothered to go for the requisite "badges" as she couldn't be bothered. The water was "too cold" and she was not motivated by the "prize." "Who cares about some stupid badge?" she said to me one summer when I asked her why she had not shown them what a great swimmer she was. She is nothing like me. I loved badges. As a kid, I went to brownies and the more badges I got - the better I figured. I am competitive. She is not. ( accept when we play Scrabble - that is another story!)
She is not one for sports. I love golf, tennis and any activity that requires a ball and a target. Bring it on! How did I manage to produce a kid that would rather get a root canal than swing a tennis racket? Her father is also sporty. I can't even blame his genes. Sometimes it's hard to reconcile that I won't likely ever get the opportunity to show her some of my moves on the links or the courts. She hates riding a bicycle too. I recall when she was very young, getting one of those kid carts attached to the bike to get her interested. She didn't even really want to be hauled along back. We sent her to bike camp one summer - she could barely master it by the end of a two week session.
We have enrolled her over the years in soccer, baseball, tennis and gymnastics in an effort to see if there was even one sport she would like. Nothing. She did enjoy ballet for many years, but dropped that a couple of years ago, once she discovered she did not really have any talent or the body for Swan Lake. At least she learned something.
I think it is important for kids to have at least one physical activity they really enjoy. For her, it is swimming, but now that she is a teenager, she is all shy about her body and shies away from public displays of her curvy figure. My hope is she will get over that one day and just ignore her feelings of insecurity and go for it. As a parent, I have felt it was my responsibility to encourage and support her efforts at anything she attempted and I have, but now it is up to her as she gets older to take on some of that responsibility herself.
My job may not be done, but the time has come for my little fish to swim on her own. I hope she can.