Monday, October 1, 2007

Just call me "Clara's Mom"

Well, it's finally little ballerina will be Clara in this year's Nutcracker! As you can imagine, after years of dedication and training...this is a special moment.

We knew the cast list would go up last night. After I dropped her off at ballet, the phone rang..."Mom! I'm CLARA!" She was so excited. I was so excited. It was a moment.

My sweet daughter desires with all her heart to be a professional ballerina. The funny thing is, I've always believed that God can reveal to us early where our children's gifts, talents and future might lead. Because God says in His Word that we were created for good works which God prepared in advance for us to do - we have a special purpose, a calling to fulfill. Our ministry may be a vocation that appears secular, or a vocation that is specifically Christian. Our children might be Christian doctors influencing the world, or they might be missionaries, pastors, teachers in a Christian school. God already knows, our job is to cooperate with Him to guide our children according to their specific, God given bent. Yet, it never occurred to me that my child would actually begin pursuing her path this early.

She began her first serious ballet class around eight years old. She had the most darling teacher that made the classes a delight. She enjoyed it so. Later, as that studio began moving towards hip hop type dancing, we moved to a studio that focused on classical ballet. Wow. That was a wonderful move. We were now in an environment where beauty and refinement were honored, and the level of training increased tenfold.

It wasn't long before we realized that she had a passion and talent for ballet, but she needed to choose her path. As a multi-talented artsy child, she was in drama, piano and many other extra curricular activities. She was pretty good in drama, but it wasn't her strongest talent. She was great at piano, but she didn't love it as much as ballet. If she were an only child, perhaps we could have done more than one activity; but at age eleven, she chose ballet over all other activities. It was a true sacrifice because it meant that she would not be spending as much time with her homeschool friends. It was a hard decision and one that we made after much anguished prayer. We did, however, decide to make certain that we nurtured her spiritually edifying friendships, even though her entire life would now seem focused on ballet.

As time continued, we learned that there is a lot more to becoming a professional ballerina than taking ballet class. Summer intensives and taking ballet and pointe every day become increasingly important as you enter high school. It's been an interesting learning curve. These little girls are training to begin their full-time career at age 18, an age that most people just begin discovering their paths in life. They generally finish around age 30 or earlier and begin teaching others ballet, or stay home and homeschool their children (my hope for her!).

My daughter leaping at the Washington School of Ballet this summer.

Though it's unusual for a child to begin their careers so early, I believe most children show early signs of their purpose. God has designed them with the seeds of it in their hearts. What lights their fire? In what arena do they feel the most success? What interests them? As parents, we should focus and hone their talents rather than focus on their weaknesses. Yes, we do need to lovingly and patiently work on their weak areas, but the focus of our schooling, our time and energy should not be on their weakness, but on their strengths. By doing this, we give them an opportunity to succeed in their giftings and callings, and we begin to cooperate with God's plan for their lives.

I've noticed that one of my children truly has an unusual love for and passion for animals that has endured through the eleven years of his life. My other son gets extremely excited about government and leadership, and has big dreams of being a senator (thanks to Teenpact!). Because of this, I plan to give them as many opportunities to experience these interests as I can. What must they do to succeed in these fields, should they decide to pursue them? I want to cooperate with God in developing excellence in the passions of their hearts.

Pray earnestly that God would give you insight about your children's particular bent. As He reveals their special interests, callings and passions, don't fight it (as I did, at first). Release your own hopes and dreams and allow God to replace it with His plans and purposes for your child. Then, help your child to develop and hone their special interests.

Because we homeschool, we do not have to get bogged down in work that is time consuming and ineffective at developing the person our children are meant to be. We can toss out useless and unproductive methods and mechanisms, replacing them with the things that add value to their lives.

We're looking forward to a busy Nutcracker season!