Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.
~ Jedi Master Yoda
This past Sunday morning my daughter, Rosie, had her third gymnastics meet of the year. A little backstory here. Rosie is 12 and has done gymnastics, or some version of it, since she could walk. She started around 18 months with "mommy and me" classes. (translation - roll around on the mats with other kids while the moms chatted with each other and drank massive cups of coffee because we were so tired it hurt) She continued to take classes "for fun" until she was about 8 at which point she started to take notice of the team girls working out next to her. For a few months, she stared longingly as she went through the motions in her own class. Thankfully, the coach took notice of her as she watched from afar and eventually suggested she consider joining them. She made the official switch from classes to the team at age 9 and has been 100% hooked from that point forward. Currently she is a second year Excel Silver, she practices about ten hours a week and she lives, eat and breaths gymnastics. And I fully support it for multiple reasons.
Second, it's her choice, not mine. I played sports when I was growing up up but my parents never forced me to do anything. Everything I did was because I wanted to do it. When I was in grade school, I fell in love with soccer the way Rosie has fallen in love with gymnastics. I was always on multiple teams, playing every day of the week and dreaming about it when I wasn't on the field. And, yes, my dear, sweet mom drove me to Timbuktu and back for games and tournaments from 3rd grade all the way up through high school. Bless her. I know, however, that if I'd started to burn out my parents would have been both supportive and understanding if I wanted to go in a different direction. And we will do the same for Rosie. Because the minute it's not fun and she's not enjoying herself, it's no longer worth it. For now, she sees it as something she "gets" to do which is how it should be at her age.
Third, it is helping her grow into a strong, confident, driven young woman. Rosie is unique in that she's never in a bad mood. No joke. My mother-in-law calls her Sunny because she's always happy, smiling and ready and willing for anything. It's crazy, in a good way, but crazy. She also moves around a lot. Always has. She's a bright kid but she has a hard time focusing, particularly in school or when there is a lot going on; something she is constantly struggling with and working on. But when she's in the gym, her demeanor shifts. A calm falls over her and she's able to set her intention and fully commit to the task at hand. It's almost eerie to watch. And the same goes when she's competing. She's still her fun, easy going self; cheering on and laughing with her teammates, but her nerves are very clearly at bay. As she moves from event to event, hopping on the beam or getting ready to fly over the vault, she's cool as a cucumber, which totally blows my mind.
Next up was beam, typically her best event. She hopped on, did her back walkover, missed her footing and fell off. Bummer, but not a huge deal. It happens. She composed herself and hopped back on. Then she did a half turn, something she can usually do with her eyes closed, missed her footing on the landing and fell off again. For as long as she's been competing she's never done this. My heart broke for her. But, she kept calm, got back on and finished her routine. I saw her coach pat her on the back and say something as she smiled and nodded. Then she marched over to the floor with her teammates and got ready to go again. When she stepped on the mat to compete, she was her sunny, smiling self and if she was bummed about the beam, I couldn't tell.
She went on to perform beautifully on the floor and vault and finished 5th overall in her age group despite her mishap on the beam. In the end she was both disappointed and pleased with the way the morning had unfolded. And, yes, she was smiling as we left the building and headed home. Why am I telling you all this? I do love to talk about my kids and I'm incredibly proud of both of them. But, that's not the reason in this case. Both my girls make me laugh, drive me nuts, and keep me guessing. But the cool thing is, though they likely aren't aware of it, I am always learning from them. Case in point, Rosie could have so easily fallen apart and given up after her beam routine. And there is no question that the rest of her performance would have suffered if she'd done this. Not only did she hold it together to finish strong but she stayed upbeat and positive all the way through. I'm not sure I could have or would have done this same if I was in her shoes. In fact, there have been countless races for me when the wheels have started to fall off and I've thrown in the towel mentally and physically rather than bucked up and fought my way to the finish. And if I'm being totally honest, there have been many races, marathons specifically, when I've done poorly and then claimed I hate them and will never do them again. After which I dwell on it for hours or days even and overanalyze all that went wrong until the cows come home. (and then, I do them again, but that's a lesson for a different day) Somehow, my twelve year old is always able to see the forest for the trees. In this case, she was able to note that her day didn't go as well as she would have liked but that she'd done the best she could. Rather than dwell on it, she was able to accept it, reset and move on. It was that simple. The bigger overarching lesson here is that not only does she love her sport but she recognizes that it's a privilege that she gets to do it. I know this not only because she tells me but because I can see it on her face every single day. Too often, despite the fact that I choose to run and train for races, I am dreading my workouts or complaining about having to fit it all in. Because it's hard. And it takes a long time. And I'm tired. And blah, blah, blah. While, really, I should really be realizing and appreciating the fact that I get to do something that I love day in and day out. Running is my passion and brings me joy and if I approach it with this in mind, the same way Rosie does with gymnastics, it will undoubtedly impact my performance in a positive way. Because in the end, the reward, not the medal or the trophy, mind you, but the actual reward of getting to do what we love is really what it's all about.
Which brings us to Monday. I had my usual long run to tackle and decided to approach it a little differently. I put some music on, threw on my running clothes, drank some coffee and got excited. I don't "have to" run long, I said to myself. I "get to" run long. I took off with a spring in my step and, like Rosie, a smile on my face. I ran for almost three hours. I felt good. And I loved it. So, thanks to Rosie. Lessons learned. Keep 'em coming.
Listen to this:
On My Way - Tiesto