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Of all her dance costumes over the last few years, this one is Lily’s favorite. The skirt’s twirl factor alone gave it instant cred.

Little sister took notice pretty quickly and demanded that she get to try on the dress the minute we got home from the recital. Now Sophie wears it over her clothes almost every single day. With her plastic fancy shoes of course.

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Lily wants to take gymnastics instead of dance next year, the result of a super-fun time in the foam pit at a birthday party and the first time she’s really taken the lead on trying a new activity.

It was Marc’s (wonderful) idea to see if Lily might like dance when she was three years old. She wiggled around all the time and loved any type of music. He took her to check out a Saturday class at a studio near our neighborhood, and she jumped right in.

Three years later, she’s ready to try something new. I have a feeling it won’t be long before we’re shuttling both girls to all sorts of practices, games, meets, you name it.

For now, though, I’m going to enjoy the relative peace of just one extracurricular activity. There will be no pushing. No forcing my daughters to take up anything other than what their hearts call them to try.

I imagine it’s a fine line to walk (I can hear you more seasoned parents chuckling at me). We all want well-rounded kids. And I’m especially hopeful that both of my girls will become involved in team sports (because I truly believe that is one of the biggest reasons I survived middle school). But I’m not going to force an activity because it will beef up a college resume or keep my kid in close competition with her peers.

My parents guided and encouraged me, but when it became clear that I was not cut out for ballet or piano lessons, that was that. At the same time, when I discovered a passion for photography at a young age, they put a little snap-and-wind camera in my hands and kept me well supplied with film and flash bulbs (how I loved the smell when they popped). When basketball became my favorite thing ever, they drove me to countless practices and tournaments, cheering me along every step of the way.

I’m grateful to have been given that freedom, and I want to do the same for my kids.

I want Lily and Sophie to be active, curious, healthy and involved. To care about their communities and have lots of different life experiences.

But, most of all, happy. In whatever form that may take.

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