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Single Mom in Sherman Oaks: What'll It Be?

Tough decision: Should my daughter play soccer or take music lessons?

My daughter’s favorite position to play on her soccer team is right and center forward. She has the ability to be a great player, and I’m not just saying this because I’m her mom. Her coaches tell me she’s fast and smart and a consummate team player, but most of all she likes to have the ball. Her desire coupled with her enthusiasm is what makes getting up early on Saturday mornings in the fall worthwhile.

But soccer-playing is not her only talent: She also sings. When my daughter gets on stage to sing you can’t help but be moved by the same passion. She sings with purpose; there is no taking your eyes off her electrifying performance. Again, I’m not the only one who thinks so: She was recently accepted into the Conservatory of Fine Arts in the Performing Arts division, an LAUSD program based out of Cal State L.A., with instruction every Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., beginning Oct 15, for nine months.

Saturday, you say? Isn’t Saturday soccer day? Why, yes, it is!

As a parent I strive to help guide my daughter toward making good decisions, as opposed to dictating the choices I think she should make.  At the same time she is only 9 years old and helping to guide her while leading her to believe she made the decision is an art form, one that I’m not too sure I’ve mastered.

“Mommy, how am I supposed to choose between soccer and singing? I love them both the same! How did you and Daddy choose to move to a home without each other when you both loved me?”

Seriously?! I would have preferred to be hit over the head with cleats and lassoed by a microphone cord than to be challenged with in-depth divorce questions, no matter her age!

As I searched her wide, expressive green eyes hoping to get an easy answer, I was distracted by her father’s face which appeared in a thought bubble above her shoulder, “OK Super Mom, how ya gonna get out of this one?”

I took her in my arms and did my best to explain that there is a reason she were born with the gift to sing and the potential to be a great athlete. That this was more a question of timing and scheduling than anything else, and whatever choice she made did not mean she was giving up the other. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

My daughter searched my eyes for a clearer and more concise answer.

Had I a strong preference one way or another, it would have been easier to guide her. The conservatory is not only a wonderful opportunity, it’s a full ride, and without it I don’t know that I can provide musical instruction for her.

On the other hand, my daughter is an incredibly active child who benefits and receives great joy from participating in physical activity and team sports, especially soccer. 

“Babe, look," I said, "while there isn’t an easy answer, whatever choice you do make will be the right one for you.”

“Oh, Mommy,” she said sadly, “growing up is the hardest thing ever. I don’t think I want to grow up yet!”

While we believe it’s important to expose our children to various extracurricular activities and to provide them with a respect for the value of commitment, I often wonder if we are creating too much pressure for them and for us.

“Baby girl, Daddy and I chose to live separately because we love you so much. I know it doesn’t make sense right now but you can take comfort in knowing we made the right decision for you because we are grown-ups. And the best part of being a grown-up is being your Mommy.” 

Allyson Mazer October 04, 2011 at 07:12 PM
Choices, choices. Never easy, but you handled that conversation quite well!!
Dani Fishman Parker October 05, 2011 at 04:07 PM
Thank you, Adam.
Dani Fishman Parker October 05, 2011 at 04:08 PM
You're right Sharon, I am so proud of her! Thank you for your comment.
Dani Fishman Parker October 05, 2011 at 04:08 PM
Well thank you Allyson :)
andi October 06, 2011 at 12:37 AM
Being proud of her no matter what her choice will be,is felt by both of you,because of your effort,good conversations are what connects you,not necessarily answers. Good article..so nicely expressed!

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