Charlie art
Charlie sketches a pineapple at breakfast

I quickly fed Charlie a small piece of lasagna at 4:15 so he would have something in his stomach during his 90 minute art and sculpture class that started at 5pm. The timing of the class wasn’t the best, but it’s something Charlie wanted to explore, so we’re making it work.

Finding out that Charlie loves art has been one of the great discoveries of my parenting journey. Seeing my kids blossom in their passions brings me so much joy, after bringing me stress for so many years before.

I actually stressed about the activities my kids should be in. Lacrosse? Soccer? Baseball? Hockey? Swimming? Tae Kwon Do? Gymnastics? Art? Dance? Football? Ski Jumping? Luge? Etc etc. When they were 2 and 3 and 4 and 5, I was so worried that I wasn’t keeping up with the Joneses and was enrolling them in as many things as I could while harbouring guilt for the activities I couldn’t afford or fit in our schedule.

Zacharie playing soccer

There are so many activities and options for kids, I constantly stressed about being a ‘good parent’ and giving my kids enough choice and opportunity that they could truly find what they excelled at and loved.

“Do you want to play hockey?,” I’d ask them each fall making sure I’m doing my duty as a ‘Canadian dad‘ and providing them opportunity to play the national pasttime. “No, Daddy,” they’d reply. “I just like playing street hockey with you.”

“Fair enough my sons. But what about all these other things we could do with our extra curricular budget and time?,” I always wonder.

For the past year or so, we’ve fallen into a routine that has shown me what my kids love. And I didn’t need to stress about it. I just needed to provide my kids as much opportunity as was reasonable, and watch them.

I was hoping Z would become a luger, and must have asked him a dozen times to go to an info camp at the Winsport COP before the winter season started, but he wasn’t interested. “Fair enough,” I thought, I ran down the list of other options to see if there was something that would grab his interest.

That’s all we can do with our kids. Ask them questions, give them opportunity, if something doesn’t catch their passion, move on to something else and keep trying.

When we put Zacharie in soccer last year to get some teamwork skills and experience, I noticed him dancing on the field more than challenging to score a goal. We found a boys’ hip hop class at a community centre and now, 18 months later, he’s at a real dance studio learning real b-boy moves and acro stunts.

Zacharie in dance class

He loves it.

Charlie has never seen a piece of paper and crayon he can’t pick up and doodle with. So we found art classes at the community centre and his muse exploded. His art is creative, bizarre, focused, and on point.

Now that he’s 6, he’s able to move into more disciplines and has been begging to work with clay and sculpture – so that’s where he is.

The first class’ project was to make a clay sculpture of an animal. Charlie molded his clay into “a white tiger footprint in the mud after it had been stung by a porcupine, that’s why there are prickles in it,” he explained.

He’s where he belongs. So is Zacharie. And when we toss in some freestyle rock climbing, skating, and swimming lessons at our community centre, my boys are getting the well-balanced diet of extra curricular activities to keep them active and inspire.

I just had to watch, and wait.

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