Monday, December 10, 2012

From last to first: a lesson in determination

Zoe tied for first in the all-around in her age group at a gymnastics meet yesterday.

This is a big deal. It was just about a year ago that she participated in her very first meet. I still remember how pumped she was to participate. How much fun she had with her teammates. How big she smiled when her name was called during the award ceremony. And how crushed she was when she realized she had "won" last place in her age bracket.

Ten months later and Zoe has advanced from Level 3 to Level 4. She's on a huge team of 40 girls, aged 7 to 12, who practice 6 hours a week. She's been working so hard, determined to be her best. She isn't the most talented kid at the gym--not by a long shot--but she is dedicated and well-liked for her positive attitude.

That was good enough for us. All we wanted was for her to not be so distracted by our presence at the meet that she'd fall of the beam or backflip onto her head.

We were pleasantly surprised to see her scores--all 8s and 9s--and dumbfounded when she climbed onto the top of the awards podium.*

Of all of the parenting books and blogs I've read, one of the messages that's really stuck with me is that from The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. It's a book about raising self-reliant kids, and it stresses the importance of letting your kids struggle and even fail so that they can ultimately be successful. Zoe's experience with gymnastics is a reflection of this value and it's making me feel like a pretty good parent today.

*I was dumbfounded remotely as I had to leave to go co-host a clothing swap immediately after Zoe's last event. Josh did a great job of keeping me updated via text message.