I have been more than vocal about my personal disdain for over-scheduling my kids. I talked about it tongue in cheek in the context of being a lazy mom who doesn’t want to stress about shuttling my kids off to extra-curricular activities. The truth is, I’m OK with signing my girls up for activities if they express an interest and/or passion.
My kids don’t live in a cave. They are exposed to things like music class, dance and gymnastics, but when I mention formally signing up for these classes without mama joining them it’s a firm chorus of HELL NO from my little ones (minus the expletive, but you get it). For example, my toddler twins want to do gymnastics, but the one time they attended a trial gymnastics class they screamed and wailed so hard the instructor (who initially shooed me away) invited me to join them on the mats. I was the only mama duck in the gym with her ducklings.
While I admonish the commitment to exposing my kids to every activity through personal experience, I have always made the caveat if my kids show a real interest in something; I’ll support them and pursue it.
Enter horses. One of my little ladies has always had a love for horses. We thought it was just a Disney movie thing (like Maximus in Tangled or Prince Philip’s horse in Sleeping Beauty), but it’s clearly more than a love of cartoon horses. Before I signed her up for horse riding lessons we visited horses and ponies on three separate occasions to make sure this wasn’t a fluke. With each visit, my daughter became more adamant about wanting to ride a horse. I should note my daughters are terrified of creatures big and small including insects and dogs of all varieties. Now, a giant horse is A-OK for my darling.
I knew I couldn’t ignore her passion and had to make some calls to find an equestrian center who would allow 3 year olds on horses (most places have a minimum age of 5 or 6 years old). It’s been three weeks of horse riding lessons and her love of horses has not diminished in the slightest. What’s more amazing is the effect horses have had on my most spirited of offspring.
I have often likened my darling to Michelle 2.0 – new and improved in manipulative ways. I am easily described as driven, stubborn, obstinate and a handful, but I have always taken this as a compliment because it means I will not be pushed over and my strong will finds a way to make things happen. My darling takes the same adjectives to a new level and I have to give her respect for it. She’s a girl after my own heart. BUT when I saw her in the saddle for the first time, it was like a wave of calm washed over her. My normally mischievous darling with the adorably impish smile was practically stoic and focused like I’ve never seen her. She was quiet, demure, in fact, and I kept telling the instructor, “I don’t know who this kid is. I have never seen her like this before!”
At the end of her first lesson she morphed back into her playful and fiery self by opening and closing doors goading me to “get her” in order to the leave the stables, then completely melting down and crying “Horsey! Horsey!” the whole way home because she didn’t want to leave the horses at all. Ahhh, there she is again!
The only way I could coax her to calm down was by pointing to her name on the calendar the following week; proof she would return for another lesson. Nevertheless, the intensity of her horse love has only grown. On week two she asked the instructor why they were not going faster and she convinced her instructor to trot and teach her posting (these are all new equestrian terms to me). I am not one to say my kid is a natural at anything, but this girl has certainly found one of her callings (I imagine there will be more in the future). As long as she loves horses this much, I’m happy to oblige and become a “soccer mom” of sorts, of the horse variety.