Saturday, February 22, 2014

When, or how, to push

Depth of line can vary
Tonight, the eldest went to the state finals for her gymnastics, the final meet of the year for her... and I found myself, again, in the position of being both immensely proud of her, and wondering how I inspire her to do more. Or even if I should.

First, the numbers. She's a Level 6 gymnast, the lowest competition level for team gymnastics in New Jersey. She turns 14 in April, which means she's older than most of the kids in these events. She's been doing this for about 3 years; I started her too late for a wide range of reasons, and she's on her third gym, having been at the most recent one for less than nine months. We're under no delusion that she's going to the Olympics here, or that this is going to turn into a college scholarship. The benefits are the focus and discipline it gives to her, and the overall physical fitness.

It doesn't help that her sport is downright confounding. Judging seems just incredibly partial and random, despite the fact that her scores throughout the 4-month meet season was pretty consistent. and the quality of equipment is also pretty random. She's better than some, worse than others, and getting better even though the numbers are more or less the same. It's kind of maddening.

So, anyway... tonight's meet was right in the pocket of every other. She slipped twice on balance beam, did her floor and vault better than I've ever seen her do it, and seemed a little weak on uneven bars. She placed in one event (10th in vault), the only medal earned by the three kids from her gym, missed her all-around goal by a tiny margin, and will go to the next level, assuming she stays with it, next year.

And this is where being Dad is downright, well, impossible. The eldest is already better at any sport than I ever was, and what she does is downright unfathomable to me, seeing as it involves body control, flexibility, and, well, courage. The longest moments of my life are spent watching her on balance beam, where she's always a fraction of an inch away from failure, and maybe even injury and pain.

Oh, and the meets are fairly tortuous. They take, on average, five hours, and in those five hours, your kid performs for about seven minutes. Tonight, I took my laptop with me, actually had the wifi work (that was a first), and performed 90% of the day job despite being as anxious as possible for her, because that's just how it works.

If she stays with it, and I'm reasonably sure she will, she'll get better, and she's pretty good now. But telling someone who is a borderline A student, when you were a B+... that you appreciate the A... but that the A+ is the next goal?

And not have her hate you for it?

I take it back, kiddo.

Maybe you do have the easier job after all.

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