How much is too much? (The Tiger Woods Syndrome)

Yes, it’s been a while, but it’s also been hectic.  We are now safely on the other side of Marcus’ opera performance, which was covered by the Miami Herald.  A picture of the opera scene appeared in the Herald, but you can only see Marcus’ foot under a cart prop – but you can be sure Marcus is as proud of that as if he had been on the marquee.  The situtation around Marcus’ performance has raised some interesting questions, however.

One immediate issue that has arisen is how much sacrifice should a family give for one child’s activities.  Marcus’ rehearsals often required us to leave places early, to give up a few dinners at home for a McDonalds binge – which of course the kids loved – and required late nights picking him up from the theater at 10pm.  Because it’s one week only this time (Carmen last year was a marathon of nearly 6 weeks), it may have been no big deal, but it showed how fragile our routine is when it comes to great opportunities.  At what point does the obvious talent of our children begin to supercede the need for structure and predictability for the other children?   It’s a balancing act we’re still working on.

Also, I find myself – ever so subtlely – bragging on Marcus’ accomplishment.  At one doctor’s appt. with my oldest son, Chris, I began talking about Marcus and the opera, at which point the doctor asked Chris how he got into the opera.  Chris hardly noticed the error, but I felt bad that at the time I neglected to present Christopher’s talents as an artist and musician – only because he’s not currently in a major production or concert.  Was that my pride in living through my kids surfacing?  I’ve always been careful not to be the parent getting more out of my children’s experiences then they do.  But as my children eclipse my abilities and experiences, it becomes harder not to try to imagine what it would have been like if I have done such things in my childhood.   It is a constant temptation to frame reality in my own terms, like a replayed movie with new actors.   

Finally, the child himself.  Marcus has loved the experience of singing on stage with orchestras, meeting professional musicians, and mostly relaxing backstage and playing cards with the “opera moms”. But he also showed signs of fatigue and stress after three 
straight late night rehearsals, and he’s mentioned giving up choir to play youth football, which would involve daily practices  (not to mention the fact that his mother loathes the idea).  I’m all for athletics, but at the expense of a child’s natural gift being neglected?  That’s a harder question. I’ve always been a proponent of letting children explore whatever interests are in their heart, but it’s hard when you see incredible potential in a child and know he /she may never know what they could have had if they waited just a little longer, given a talent time until they developed a love for it.  Have I exhibited characteristics of the classic “star” parent?  After all , Tiger Woods’ father is now idolized for his singular focus on his son’s golf career  – but for every Tiger Woods, there are a thousand Jennifer Capriatis.  I believe it’s the constant checks and balances of knowing my son’s spirit, his inner drive to be what God created him to be, and to gently steer him toward the gifts that will ‘eventually’ make him the happiest, and allow him to explore everything else in an environment of unconditional support.  How to do this in reality is beyond me -if I figure it out, please buy my book.

Here’s to avoiding the Jacob / Esau rivalry.  I’m gonna try to let my kids be what God wants them to be, so I don’t make them just what I want them to be.  Look to the hills from whence cometh your help…..



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