From the age of 3, I signed Jasmine up for various activities that I thought she should do – activities her friends were doing, activities I was convinced she would love and indeed excel at.
So she did ballet, gymnastics, Tennis and violin lessons.
I had many reports from the teachers about day dreaming, lack of concentration and a lack of interest. Her gymnastics teacher phoned specifically to talk to me about her poor balance and coordination. At tennis lessons, she would sit in the corner and act out. My husband would spend minutes trying to cajole, negotiate and ultimately bribe her to take part. After 2 years of violin classes at school, she was still only really capable of playing a few notes.
We endured many Saturday mornings of screaming and shouting that she did not want to go to the planned activity, even though she had agreed to do the class at the start of term.
At the time we could not really understand what the issue was – these were classes that many of her friends and peers were either doing or talking about doing and in some instances, she had asked to do them. We concluded that she was simply naughty and acting out.
Its only now that I understand that these classes required a level of coordination and concentration that she just found too hard. Tennis, gymnastics, ballet and violin all require a tremendous amount of hand-eye coordination, balance, sequential thinking and concentration. All things dyspraxic and dyslexic children struggle with. Unable to articulate her frustrations, she resorted to acting out.
Now I am totally guided by her interests in choosing activities. I want her to enjoy her classes and to feel that she is able to excel (by her definition of excellence not mine).
This new direction has been fascinating. I have come to realize that Jasmine is a great story teller (although she struggles to write them down), a confident singer, a fast runner but above all, absolutely loves fashion design. I (and all our family and friends) have nurtured this love of fashion wholeheartedly with wonderful fashion themed birthday and Xmas presents. There are so many amazing fashion design toys, sketch books, apps and kits available now – its amazing.
In addition, she does a fashion class for 2 hours every Saturday where she has been taught to use a sewing machine and to make simple designs from patterns. I’ve been so delighted to see her come home with cushions, blouses, skirts and Xmas stockings that she has designed and made from scratch. I’m currently planning a fashion themed 8th birthday party for her on her insistence.
It is interesting – its absolutely common sense that we should be guided by our children’s interests and strengths however, the reality is many of us have our own vision of what our children should be good at, what they should do with their time and later on, what they should do with their lives. I was so so guilty of this.
Letting this all go, and choosing to be guided by Jasmine has been fascinating. I’m so very curious to see where our journey will lead.
Jasmine with her sewing machine and tools.