Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In Defense of Dabbling

1 a : to paddle, splash, or play in or as if in water b : to reach with the bill to the bottom of shallow water in order to obtain food
2 : to work or involve oneself superficially or intermittently especially in a secondary activity or interest

A while back I wrote about kids being over scheduled . At school, church and the office I keep hearing another side of this same coin. Our children are expected to become specialists, award winning experts in a single field, completely devoted to one interest to the exclusion of all others. Here are some snippets of conversation heard just this week:

"They told us at the parent meeting that we need to have them at practice for 2 hours Monday through Thursday with games on Friday and Saturday. All family vacations need to be rescheduled until after the season is over. There is no excuse for being late or missing practice. When do they think these nine year olds are going to do their homework, 9:00 at night?"

"She needs to decide if she is going to be on the dance team or in the choir. We can't have her bringing us down in the competitions because she's not focused"

"What is he thinking of taking art as an elective? He seems to think high school is some sort of summer camp. He'll never be a doctor if he doesn't buckle down and take care of the honors level science courses he needs."

Wow. No wonder our kids are stressed. What ever happened to the well-rounded child? I say it's time we parents take a stand. The next time your kid's coach, teacher or scout leader tells you that your child needs to "make a commitment to excellence", say "No thanks, my little one is already commited to healthy, happy dabbling."

And if that doesn't work, just flap your arms and quack like the momma ducks do. That's sure to get the point across, or at least give you a wide berth at the parent teacher conferences. Make way for Dabbling Ducklings!