Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Awesome Feeling of . . . Progress

Holy Hell!  I like to talk about gymnastics.  I wonder how many people will stop reading this blog because I.  Can't.  Stop. 

But this IS newsworthy - as a story of hope, encouragement.  We WILL get there with our kids if we just stick with them and ENVISION THEIR SUCCESS. 

What do I mean by this?  Here are three ways I could talk about my gymnastics expectations for Oldest:
  1. Why can't you stop screwing around?
  2. I hope you can behave yourself tonight.
  3. I know you are going to meet the expectations I have for you at gymnastics.  Can you remind me what they are again?
Of course, friends and neighbors, #3 assumes her success.  It empowers her to make good choices.  It makes her say "I know I can do it," not "I have to do it or else Mom's going to yank me from the class."  Or even worse, "Mom has no faith in me, why should I have faith in myself?"

Exactly four weeks ago I wrote a post about the difficulties Oldest was having in Gymnastics.  I gave her the ultimatum that if she messed up in class again (in the goof off, screw around variety, nobody's looking for any Olympic material here), she'd be out for the remainder of the season.  And because I'm such a nice mommy, my plan was to still take her Youngest's class and let her sit it out for 6 straight weeks. 

I prayed, prayed that she wouldn't mess up.  I didn't want to do this.  Enforcing painful, gut wrenching consequences really is harder on the parent than the child.  My parents weren't kidding around when they said that.  No sir, not one little bit.  But I was ready.  If this was a lesson she needed to learn the hard way, I prepared myself. 

Last night, OMG!  It was like NOTHING I've ever seen from her in that building.  She focused, she tried her best, she didn't allow mistakes to set her off, she didn't SCREW AROUND.  She was amazing! 

Is she Mary Lou Retton?  No, not by a long shot. 

But she's making consistent improvement and she's truly trying her hardest.  She did a forward roll on the balance beam, for cripe's sake!  Four weeks ago on the balance beam, she would take two steps, wobble, purposely fall and then roll around giggling about how hard it was for 2-3 minutes at a time.  Forward roll.  Balance beam.  Last night.

I know I've said it before, but this has NOTHING to do with the skills being acquired (though seeing her gain confidence in her body and a modicum of coordination certainly is an added bonus).  This has EVERYTHING to do with actually seeing, truly watching her work through something really difficult, make the right choices on her own, and gain the confidence of doing your best work, no matter what that level is.  It is watching her be a little less of a perfectionist and more of a person who accepts her strengths and weaknesses. 

I am swelling with pride for her this morning.  And for us as parents.  In a profession (parenting) where you so rarely complete a task, I feel like we saw real social and emotional progress last night.

And it was even sweetened by the instructor coming up to me after class, with her eyes all alight, saying, "Oldest did awesome tonight.  I am SO proud of her." 
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