Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Hank is a gymnast. Have I mentioned that before? Yes, he takes gymnastics lessons once a week, and has since he was two years old. Doesn't that make him a gymnast? No? Oh.

Seriously, this boy has sought to take lessons week after week for over two years now. I'm completely sick of it. I'm sick of the way the gym reeks of sweat the second I walk in the door, I'm sick of locking myself in the viewing room with Elisabeth week after week while trying to prevent her from hurting herself and, most of all, I'm sick of carting us all up there week after week. However, Hank has enjoyed it, so I've persevered (are you feeling sorry for me yet?)

Guess what. Now Hank hates it. He's sick of and thinks it's boring and wants to quit. In fact, he's upstairs throwing a tantrum right now, "But I don't LIKE gymnastics!! It's boring and I hate it and I'm NEVER GOING THERE!!!!" I wouldn't be surprised if my East Coast readers confessed to having heard him.

Well I hate it too. If I hate it and he hates it, do I still have to make him go? Sadly, yes, I think I do. First off, and least important, we already paid for the lessons. And they weren't cheap. Secondly though, and most importantly, we told Hank when we signed up what he was making a commitment to see it through, even if he ended up not wanting to do it. I know, he's four and can't completely understand that concept but generally I still think it's important to help him understand that if you make a commitment to something you have to be responsible and stick it out, if for no other reason than to just, well, be responsible and stick it out.

It doesn't mean I have to like it.


sixty-five said...

Not sure I would be so rigid about this, but what do I know? Will be interested to hear what the other moms have to say.

SuperMom said...

Well, part of the problem is Hank seems to have fun once he gets there, it's just that he whines and complains prior to going. *Sigh*

Superdad said...

Also, the spring session is close to over for the year and we will not make him sign up for the summer session (or for anymore ever). I do think it is important to make him stick it out till the end of the session. Commitment is becoming a lost virtue and I want to make sure that my kids grow up with a solid understanding that when you make a commitment to other people (here to his parents that the family money will be put to good use or if it is a team sport to the other kids that you will show up and play hard) that they have a responsibility to follow through. I know he’s only four, but the commitment is almost over so I think it will be a good little lesson for him.

terri said...

I always have a hard time with this sort of thing. What a pointless thing to make him do if nobody really wants to do it anyway. Hercules would take the opposite stance and say something about the principle of the thing.

I have to argue with Superdad (only because it is fun), and note that I don't believe "commitment" is really a virtue. Of course a promise is another thing, but it irks me when people feel like they have to stick with something they hate because of a commitment. It doesn't do anyone any good, and makes for a bunch of miserable crabby people. My opinion, only, of course.

In this case, though, I would probably play the pissed off mom and say, do you know how much I paid for this darn class? Get in the van!!!!!

Alexis Jacobs said...

I totally agree on the commitment issue. I have the same deal with my kids.

Superdad said...

A commitment is a promise - in team sports you promised your teammates that you would show up and play hard. It is a little different here becuase it is not a team sport but Hank still made a deal with us - we pay for the gymnastics and he promises to stick it out for the session.

terri said...

Yeah, I get that, my friend Superdad, but I just don't see it being comparable: a commitment to a kid's "fun" activity vs. a promise to, say, be loyal to a spouse or whatever.

Maybe that's just because we do things differently. i.e., Ki didn't really "promise" to practice violin every day, it's just something we're trying out. I couldn't care less if she breaks that commitment. But that's just me, and I get your point too.

SuperMom said...

Hm, I never really figured this topic would spark much interest.

I see both sides and to me the difference is this: Hank made a commitment to enroll, and finish, a semester long gymnastics course (something he's completed, with pleasure, numerous times in the past). Now he wants to quit. I feel like his commitment is simply to finish out this semester, but beyond that I don't feel like he's committed himself to gymnastics forever and if he doesn't want to re-enroll that's his choice.

Yes, it's a fun activity and should remain fun but, on the flip side, almost all childhood activities are fun, or mostly fun, and if commitment isn't taught through play and fun activities, when and how will it be taught?

Now, is commitment a virtue? In the sense that it makes you stay at a job you hate because you promised you would? No, of course not. But in the sense that it instills a sense that you will honor your commitment to your job, even one you hate, and give the required notice to your employer? Then yes, I think it is. Maybe I'm referring more to responsibility than I am commitment. Who knows, LOL.

And Terri, I'm LOLing because you're going to think I'm such an ogre because we're forcing Madeleine (as we will all three kids) take piano lessons next year, LOL.

Liz said...

I agree with you, Superparents, Hank should be taught that he needs to stick it out. Otherwise, what's to stop him from begging for and dropping millions of other activities? I would offer a compromise though. Let him pick one week that he can take a break and not go. It will seem then like you are not horrible ogres and maybe a little break is all he needs for the enthusiasm to return

Though maybe that's not a good thing, huh?