My daughter, Rosie, is one of the most happy-go-lucky kids I know. My mother-in-law calls her Sunny because of her sunny disposition. She'll hang with anyone, regardless of age, she's always up for anything from biking to dance parties, and she's very rarely in a bad mood. It's unbelievably refreshing. She also happens to be pretty athletic. She plays soccer in the fall and spring, races on a ski team in the winter and does gymnastics year round. Yes, she chooses to do them and she loves all of it. She likes being out there with her friends, she's happy to do whatever her coaches tell her; she's even pretty good at them. And that's basically where it ends. I understand and appreciate that at age 9, that's pretty much all that matters. But, lately my husband and I have found ourselves wondering if we should give her a gentle nudge to try a bit harder (ie. suggesting that she get a little more aggressive on the soccer field instead of admiring her teammates' various hairstyles). To push or not to push? And how much or how little? I do realize this is not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, and that Rosie will likely figure it out on her own. But, on some level, I have to ask myself if I am giving her the best support I can to help her grow and get the most out of what she does. It's a daily battle for me. On Sunday, Rosie had her second gymnastics meet. I'll go out on a limb and say this is probably her favorite activity as she's even more enthusiastic about it than all the other things that she does. She works hard and she's improved quite a bit since she joined the team. At the meet, she did really well on 2 of her 4 events. She did so-so on the other two. She kept her chin up, smiling the whole time. She even won a couple awards (8th place on the vault, 15th overall). When it was over, I told her she a did fantastic job and that I was incredibly proud of her. She thanked me quietly. As we walked outside, she had her head down, her shoulders slumped and I got the sense that she wasn't happy. I asked if she was okay. She shrugged. I realized, that maybe for the first time ever, she was disappointed with the outcome. This was new for both of us. Given her typical positive attitude and cheery persona, I could sense that she was having a hard time wrapping her head around her feelings. I tried to help her out. "Rosie?" I asked, "You seem bummed? Do you wish things had gone differently?"She looked up at me and nodded 'yes'. "I, um, well....I wish I'd done better." she said. Oh boy. All the sudden, my gut was wrenching and I was cursing myself for even considering suggesting that she try a little harder. She's nine. I don't want her to feel the pressure of being the best. It's too soon. I just want her to get out there and have fun; to stay sunny. Life is too short not to. I squatted down and looked her in the eyes,"Kiddo, you did an awesome job out there today." I told her. "You should feel really good about it. With everything that you do, all that matters is that you feel good about yourself, you try your best and that that you're having a good time." She smiled and said, "okay." And that was it. What I love most about running is that it makes me truly happy. It is a healthy outlet for me, both physically and mentally. Sure, it's is a challenge and there's some heartbreak involved. But there's also a great deal of reward. The bottom line is that I do it, day in and day out, because it always puts a smile on my face before, during and/or after I'm done for one reason or another. With running, I stay sunny. I want whatever it is that Rosie chooses to do to make her feel the same way. That is all that matters. Shine on, Rosie.