In Her All Along
My daughter started walking at 15 months old.
She is almost 10 now which means she has been mobile for approximately 8.5 years. 102 weeks. 714 days.
During that time, we have tried to introduce her to a variety of sports and active endeavors: soccer, karate, tennis, biking, hiking, swimming. Some she did with an ounce or two of pleasure, some she did with pure detest in her eyes, some she didn’t do much at all (soccer, I am talking to you…).
We talked about it a lot. I didn’t do much in the way of sports growing up, either. I am not particularly adept in that arena. My husband surfs and skateboards and snowboards but we never saw ourselves as a Friday Night Lights/varsity kind of crew. It was ok that she wasn’t showing physical prowess. She’s a reader! She’s an artist! She’s a writer! We pegged her a little lazy and a lot uncoordinated in the physical activity arena and promptly signed her up for pricey art studio classes. Which she loves. Which she owns. Which she goes to every week with pure enthusiasm, losing herself in 90 minutes of brush stroke techniques and new water colors and the paint-splattered apron that is two sizes too big but makes her feel like a real artist.
No detest to be found. A little lazy. A lot uncoordinated.
We had moments where we wondered if it made us a little lazy and uncoordinated in the parenting arena. Should we try something else? Something new? Push her to find her inner athlete? To care about competition and scoring points and teamwork? Would it work against her in the long-run? Make her an outcast in high school? Give her bad posture? Is raising a kid without a physical drive still an ok way to raise a kid in today’s highly competitive and well-rounded world?
My son got a Penny board for Christmas. It’s essentially a mini skateboard, inspired by the ones from the 70s that my husband first learned on. At just barely 6 years old, my son glanced at it and went back to his new Legos…a little bit lazy. A little uncoordinated. A little too young to be interested in it yet.
But my daughter didn’t look away. She jumped right on. Within 15 minutes, she was cruising down the street, a little wobbly but very determined. Within the half hour, she was steady, slowly starting to push herself along with her back foot, riding Goofy, just like her dad. Within the weekend, she was turning and soaring on and off sidewalk bumps and over sewer caps without hesitation. She would lose herself on that little board, a vision from the past in the bootcut jeans she favors over skinnies, the low-cut Converse and the faded tee. Her eyes always looking ahead, no sense of fear or insecurity or a care in the world. You could see her whispering to herself as she cruised by the house, back and forth. Making up stories, words of encouragement, developing a new little persona right before our eyes. If she fell, she popped back up yelling “I’m ok!” before I even had the chance to ask. And got right back on. And has been doing it every day since.
Anything but lazy. Amazingly coordinated.
She had it in her all along. This entire time. From her dad, no doubt. She just had to find the right time and place and way to bring it out. And she did. On her own. Without any influence or guidance or pressure from us or her peers or society.
And that’s the very best way to do it, if you ask me. All along.