A SHARP LIFE: It’s OK to embrace quitting

You know that you’ve truly arrived as a parent when you gleefully consider the idea that one of your kids wants to quit an extracurricular activity.
Before I had kids, and even when we just had one or two small children I thought I would be that dad who was going to teach my kids to endure, to do hard things, to stick to things, and to see what you start through to the finish. I wanted my kids to have a wide variety of experiences. I wanted them to try sports, dabble in the arts, experience the humanities, and throw themselves into learning about themselves and the world around them.
Boy, was I an idiot.
This last weekend was the dance recital for the six-year-old Ballerina and the three-year-old Fashionista. This was the Ballerina’s third year in dance, and as of now she claims to be ready to retire. Part of me is sad at this. She loves to perform, and I love watching her perform. But she is now ready to do something else – karate. If you knew the Ballerina, you’d know that the idea of her kicking rears and taking names in a tutu sounds just about right, so this isn’t a crazy idea. For her part the Fashionista seems content to retire after only a year. She doesn’t love performing, she loves dressing up, and I think she has already realized she can do that at home without having to put up with teachers or classmates cramping her style.
The real joy, and I’m almost ashamed to admit this, is the glee I feel at the personal ramifications of my kids quitting something. Before kids you think all of these things your kid can experience will be amazing, then you realize that you are the taxi driver, the person who schleps bags, and the one who has to remember to do the load of laundry with the tutus in it. This part of parenthood most definitely does not play to my strengths.
As the kids get older and life gets busier a parent could be forgiven for thinking, “If my kids were slackers then there would be less for me to do.” I realize that some will think poorly of me for this admission, but I promise you I’m only saying what just about every parent is thinking. We may tell our kids, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win,” but what we’re really thinking is, “Winners never quit, but quitters deal with a parent losing their mind a lot less frequently.”