I walked into Elle’s room one night to snuggle with her and tuck her into bed. I found her crying under the covers.
When I asked what was wrong, she said she was stressed and that she had too much to do. She went into this long list of things she did not get done that day that were due the next day for an extracurricular activity she was involved with even though she had been busy all afternoon. She was way overwhelmed and burdened and she wanted to quit.
Now at this point, you may expect me to go into some lecture about how she committed to something and she needs to stick to her commitments; or how she could get up early in the morning and complete her assignments because it is her responsibility; or how she would just need to suck it up because life is hard and she can do hard things.
But instead I said, “Go ahead and quit, honey, it is okay.”
She peeked her head out of the covers and looked at me with a bit of confusion.
I went on to tell Elle that one of the best lessons she can learn as a girl and as a woman is how and when to say No. To know when enough is enough. To realize when you have taken on too much. To know when your plate is too full. And how to manage your stress levels.
I told Elle it takes just as much courage to say ‘no’ as it does to say ‘yes’. And I told her that many grown women still haven’t figured out how to protect themselves from the burden of too much to do brought on by themselves.
I wanted Elle to learn these principles young. It is better for her to learn her limits in 5th grade than when she is a mom with 5 kids.
I went on to tell her she doesn’t have to be involved in everything. That her worth is not based on what she does or accomplishes or how many activities she is involved in, but rather her worth is based on who she is when no one is watching.
Now what you might expect is that I did have Elle handle her own choice to quit. I told her this was her decision and her responsibility and she would have to handle it. Elle knew from previous experience that I would not save the day here. So she talked to her teacher the next day all by herself and she quit the club.
I was curious how the teacher would handle the quit. Would she guilt her into following through or would she recognize a diligent girl knowing her limits? According to Elle, she bawled as she talked to her teacher. And luckily, her teacher was kind and compassionate and said, “I know what it feels like when life gets too much.” (Thank you, wise woman.)
Although Elle dropped one extracurricular activity, she is still plenty busy with dance, piano, Battle of the Books, state report, Activity Days, chores, The Great American Award and just being a kid.
Each case is different and sometimes we need to push our kids to continue and not give up and to stick with a difficult task. But this was not one of those times.
In our case, I don’t see Elle as a quitter. I see her as a young girl that works hard in many different areas and recognized that she was over committed. I am proud that she acknowledged that life was just too much and that she had the courage to do something about it.
In my opinion, she is forming great habits for womanhood.