It’s that time of the year when classes are in full swing for children with lots of opportunities to learn something new. Many of us didn’t have the same opportunities as children have today, and most parents are glad to encourage and motivate their children when they show an interest in learning a new skill. I tend to let Missy and her interests guide me but there has been a few classes that Missy started, and then quit!
The first time she quit, she was five years old, She arrived home, peeled of her coat and announced “Mammy, I’ve quit!” “What do you mean, you’ve quit?” (Quit, like bored, is a word that is largely ignored around here.) “I quit!” “You can’t just quit.” I tried to sound matter of fact, firm, resolute. “I just did!” She sounded more matter of fact, firm and resolute than me.
Missy has quit something every year since. At first, I really didn’t know what to do. I thought she was giving up too quickly. I did the ‘when I was your age,’ lecture but it didn’t work. When I was her age was a very long time ago, according to Missy. I was on a slippy slope to losing the battle but then I thought what battle? After all, I was only offering her an opportunity to try something new, and generally she always tries before she quits. Making an attempt at something is better than not trying at all. Not trying only leads to regrets.
I remember once, turning down a job in Dublin. They had gave me time to think about it. I was excited, overwhelmed, frantic with worry, and turned down the opportunity due to fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of a big city, Fear of looking for digs. Fear that I was not up for the job. I was full of fear. What a ridiculous thing fear is. It stops you from living. It stopped me from accepting a wonderful opportunity.
I sometimes think what would have happened if I had taken that opportunity. Would I still be in Dublin? Would I have lasted a week, a month, a year? At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter. Opportunity does not have to be about the right choice or the wrong choice. It’s just a choice and more choices come along through time. Back then, I was perhaps afraid to fail. Maybe that is why I didn’t even start. At least Missy is giving everything a go before she quits!
I am hoping it is not a pattern, that she is not giving in too easily, but then I look around at my friends in other places whose children attended every class under the sun before they grew up to be late night party revellers with no interest what so ever in gymnastics, horse riding or ballet! Was it all in vain? I think not. Some have taken up an interest or hobby in their late teens and are following their passion for guitar, karate, boxing, and painting, so perhaps all a parent can do is offer opportunities and if the interest lasts, well in good. If it doesn’t, perhaps its best to chalk it up to experience and move on without dwelling too much on the psychological effects of quitting. Maybe it’s as simple as what Missy says and does. Quit and move on to embrace the next opportunity. This way, life is an opportunity. It’s up to us to grab it with both hands.