When I signed up Risa for a year-long chorus back in September, it seemed like a swell idea. She loves to perform – as in, she wakes up every morning humming and singing, volunteers consistently to take speaking parts at school assemblies, thrives in dance recitals and talent shows, and attends an artsy-fartsy summer camp. She’s not a showboat kid who belts it to the balcony but she clearly feels at home on stage. So we were pretty confident that she'd enjoy the nearby children’s chorus which has an excellent reputation. Risa auditioned and got in. All was well.
Except she didn’t like it. The whole thing, as it turned out, was just too intense for her with the rigorous rehearsals twice a week after a long school day. She also disliked the serious classical pieces they were given to perform. She wanted Taylor Swift, not Bach. Right away there were signs: she barely talked about the chorus and shrugged when we asked her how a lesson went. Hang on, some parents advised us, it will all come together at the first concert. So we waited. On the day of her first big performance, we watched intently waiting to see the magic. Risa took the stage, looked around, and then kept on looking around during the entire performance, stopping only once to whisper something IN THE MIDDLE OF A SONG to the girl next to her. Um, if we were going to be schlepping her to expensive singing lessons twice a week, this was not the pay off we were imagining.
My husband and I talked about it later that night, and decided to give her the out. The next day, we told her it was up to her whether she wanted to stick out the year or quit. Honestly, I was kind of hoping she’d pick the latter, but was proud when she honorably – and shockingly –opted to finish the year. Now, a couple months later, she has been miserable and deeply regretting her choice. There are only 2.5 months to go but we all know how long 2.5 weeks are when bored out of one's mind.
Is total boredom a good reason to pull our kids from a long-term commitment they made?
I've been going a little crazy trying to figure out the right thing to do. I strongly believe in teaching kids the value of honoring one’s commitment, and not letting down the team. Simultaneously, I believe in the value of getting yourself unstuck from a situation that is sucking the life out of you. Especially when you’re eight.
Finally I pulled the plug today on the chorus. Well, I should say that I first talked to the staff and asked them what they were seeing (basically, an unfocused kid who was not thrilled to be there). That was good to hear, frankly; we were all on the same page. I then asked if it would harm the chorus practically to pull out Risa while there were still performances left. They thought it would not be too disruptive (I’m guessing they may be pleased to not have Risa on stage picking at lint from her pants). So I gave my husband the run down, we discussed our options, and decided to pull her out. Tonight she’ll receive the news.
If I am this relieved, I can’t imagine how overjoyed Risa is going to be to get her time back. I believe this was the right decision, and I'm happy we finally made a decision at all. Yet a little part of me is left wondering, did we do the right thing in allowing her to quit something because it wasn't fun enough?
I am a journalist, filmmaker, author, wife, and mom to an 8-year-old daughter. My most recent project is I Love Mondays: And other confessions from devoted working moms. Other projects explore raising only children, happily ever after, raising strong girls, and hot topics for Jewish women.
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