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Structured sports are not for everyone
Six-year-old Azure doing indoor climbing for the first time. - photo by Arianne Brown
My 6-year-old daughter, Azure, is a natural athlete just like her older siblings. She can jump and flip like the rest of them and has even already taught herself to successfully land a back handspring.

At the age of 4, she taught herself to ride a bike by balancing one foot on the curb and one on the street, then pushing off and gliding a few feet at a time until she had mastered it. And at the age of 5, Azure surprised me by running every step of a 5K, all while carrying on a conversation the entire way.

Just last month, we got a family pass to a local indoor rock climbing place, and she completely bypassed the kid area, then made her way to climb with her older siblings, managing just fine with the big kids.

Needless to say, I have seen the potential in my little girl and have gotten excited to see it all come to fruition.

So, in order to add some structure and to streamline her physical activeness, just like Ive done with my other kids, I have signed her up for classes and teams. With my older children, it is in these structured classes and teams that I have seen them hone their craft and thrive both physically and mentally.

This is where Azures story changes from that of her older siblings.

Unlike my older children, Azure doesnt thrive on the structure of the class. Azure listens well to her teachers, performing each physical task just as she was told to do, but it is in these structured settings that the light and excitement in her is gone.

As I watch her standing in line with the other kids, then completing the assigned task, I am happy that she is following instructions, but I know that every inch of her being just wants to break free and do her own thing. Seeing her in these settings is not fun but is suffocating to watch.

My plan to see her potential as an athlete was backfiring badly, and I needed to make a change.

So, on one particular afternoon that would normally be spent getting her ready for practice, I decided to let her make the decision on whether she wanted to go or not. With a smile on her face and a skip in her step, Azure told me she would rather stay home.

The next hour was not spent standing in lines as she waited for a turn to flip on this or jump on that, but was instead spent riding her scooter around the kitchen, tumbling on her older sisters gymnastics mat and her very favorite playing Ninja Warrior with her 7-year-old brother, Aussie, as they spider climbed in her doorway, hopped from bed to bed and climbed up bunk bed ladders, pretending the floor was hot lava.

Azure is still young, and she may eventually grow into structured sports, but she also may not.

Either way, I will do all I can to encourage this active little girl of mine to remain the way she likes best, even if it means scooter tracks on my kitchen floor and shoe prints in my doorways.