Mama Madison: Kids will find their own passions in their own ways

Finding a calling

"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay." As we drove home she continued to ponder her indifference: "I think it would be kind of cool to be like one of those kids on Glee," she relayed. "But I guess I'm really just not that in to drama."

For my daughter, this kind of "okay-ness" isn't an anomaly. Tennis lessons have been okay. Pottery camp was no more than mildly enjoyable. Horse camp was fine -- except for the horse part.

None of my daughter's dispassion has been the fault of her coaches or counselors. We have been very fortunate to experience more than our fair share of top-notch youth programming in town. But after summers of trying sports camps, swim team, sailing and more, my daughter and her 14-year-old brother have yet to find an activity that really floats their boats.

Now don't get me wrong; it's not that they don't enjoy doing anything. It's more that their interests tend to fall in the camp of things that don't have a summer camp built around them.

My son, for instance, could play Xbox football 27/7 if I'd let him. But going outside to play real football in the park with his buddies? Not so much. So the deal we struck this summer was that if he signed up for a Shakespeare program that has him out of the house doing something (his mother feels is) engaging from 9 to noon everyday, I wouldn't nudge him about how he spends the afternoon. So far, it's working out okay. And who knows, maybe this mash-up of activities will inspire him to do something productive, like write a gridiron-influenced play. "Much Ado About Madden" certainly has a nice ring to it.

And, while based on this year's drama camp experience, it's unlikely she will become the next Meryl Streep, my daughter is not without discernible talent. She is truly gifted, I've discovered this summer, when it comes to polishing her own nails. I think she has given herself a different manicure and pedicure nearly every day this month. She painted ten little well executed flags on her fingers for Independence Day and is now sporting a Galaxy theme (glittery planets, moons and stars) on each of her toes. She is currently working on mastering a reverse French manicure with the same ferocity as an elite diver might work on her inward three and a half-- you could say she's a nail-art ninja.

Truth be told, though, it's not just my daughter who is envious of her friends who have found their passion. I, too, get subtle pangs of envy when I hear of yet another kid who has found their bliss doing something that seems to be practical and summer-camp worthy. So I asked my daughter on that ride home last week what she planned on doing for the rest of her summer, and every summer henceforth, since she hasn't yet stumbled upon a single program that she wants to sign up for again.

"Mom," she said, "maybe it's time for me to be done with camp. I can always go up and down University Avenue and see if any of the nail salons need a a junior intern."

You have to appreciate her pre-professional drive.

So whenever I scroll through my Facebook feed and feel that little green monster creeping up upon seeing another one of my friends' kid's well-deserved accomplishments, I'll need to remind myself that not every kid is destined to be a championship quality (non-video game) athlete or a singer, dancer or musician. Virtual football and expert manicure skills are talents in their own right. And hopefully someday they'll come up with a Mommy camp that can help train me to be "okay" with that.

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Three cheers for reading at the Wisconsin Book Festival

Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.

Mama Madison: What's in a name?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.

Mama Madison: Eugster's is more than just a visit to the farm

At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.

Help for home-schoolers at the Madison Mentor Center

Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"

Mama Madison: Yummy Sprout is a wonderful resource

After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?

Mama Madison: Tips and tricks for baby air travel

As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.

Mama Madison: Apple-picking time

The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.

Mama Madison: Baby feeding recommendations

I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?

Heartland Farm Sanctuary helps animals that help kids

Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.

Mama Madison: Back-to-school confidences

Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.

Mama Madison: Does back-to-school really mean a whole new wardrobe?

This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"

Mama Madison: Next generation of bloggers

Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.

Mama Madison: Returning to the workforce

This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.

Triathlons raise money to teach kids healthy habits

"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.

Mama Madison: Kids will find their own passions in their own ways

"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."

Vital work is being done at the Lussier Community Education Center, from community-building to STEM skills

"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."

Mama Madison: Parental dice rolls?

Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."

Mama Madison: What constitutes a keepsake?

As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.

Mama Madison: Young love

Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.

Mama Madison: What a mother fears most

All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.