Some of you may remember my previous entry Being Brave…
I was brave in a particular way that I hoped might be a small inspiration to my kids.
Well today it paid off.
I have introduced you to my daughter before. In case you are new, or inattentive, here is a bit about Youngest.
Ever since she sailed into the world Youngest has been a determined and hard working individual. At age 18 months she was insisting on dressing herself and doing up her shoes. This was a shock after two boys who would probably still let me lace their shoes for them now, in some sort of slightly weird servant fashion, given half the chance.
Youngest is perhaps the least academic of all my children. School work has never come as easily for her as for Middlest and I have had less time to spend with her than I did with Eldest. But what she lacks in natural ability she more than makes up for in effort. She is the hardest working of all my children. And that is saying something as Eldest has an amazing work ethic.
Since she was three years old she has been athletic. Taking to every sport put in front of her with aplomb. I remember her coming home from her first taste of football at preschool literally bouncing off the walls. She did it in a pinafore and wellies but already the love for the sport was there. She had done well. Even for a three year old. In wellies. So yes she has bucket loads of natural ability.
But this is not to belittle the effort she also makes in all her sports. I often worry that teachers or coaches will believe she just relies on her natural skill when nothing could be further from the truth. If she is not at training for one sport or another (in the football season twice a week plus matches and then once a week after school for whatever other sport is being played in that term) she is in the garden or up the local field practicing.
If the weather is bad she boots her baby ball around on the landing, driving me mad with the bell inside….
Nearly every Saturday she either plays for school or her football team. In fact in the hockey season there were at least two occasions when she played a league football match in the morning and a school hockey fixture in the afternoon.
In the off season she runs park runs. She managed to compete ten 5k runs last summer and earn her ’10’ T shirt. During the end of this season she has turned out to some Junior Park runs on Sundays as she had no other sport on that day so thought she may as well. She actually hates running but knows that in order to get a flying start for footie and hockey in September she needs to keep her fitness up and so off she goes.
She recently ran ten miles in under an hour and a half whilst crossing off bridges in the sponsored Cub Scout bridge walk. The determination to do that would elude most adults.
In short although my daughter clearly has natural talent in sport she also works her socks off improving her skills and stamina. She is determined. Immensely so. She wants to play football for a living, if such a thing becomes possible for women, and understands that to achieve that she has to work and work. And she also knows her chances are slim but that doesn’t stop her determination to give it all she has.
To balance all this sport I was keen she do something else too and so along with her brothers she has learnt the piano since Year Two. I play and have since that age and still enjoy murdering the odd bit of Chopin and it comes in handy at Christmas. I was adamant she carry on even as her sport commitments ramped up. In fact she recently had to turn down attending swim squad training to keep learning, I couldn’t fit her lesson in on any other day.
She doesn’t have anywhere near the natural talent in it that she does in sport. And so again she works very, very hard at it practising every morning before school and as a result she is making steady progress.
Today was the school music prizes. She entered herself with one of her grade two pieces. She has practised and practised.
She finds playing in public immensely scary. I empathise. It is very hard to control one’s nerves enough to be able to physically play. Her legs turn to mush and her arms shake.
She has often had to be brave in sport. She regularly comes up against opponents much bigger then her, often male. She runs up for her Year so tomorrow she will be attending an athletics meet, running a distance she has never run before, on an athletics track, again a first, and she will be one of only two Year 5s going from her school. But although she will be nervous her natural skill and competitive streak will kick in and help her.
She can’t rely on this in music. This morning she was almost actually sick with nerves and ended up sobbing that she was going to pull out.
We had the bravery chat. That cliche of feeling the fear and doing it anyway. That even if the worst happened and she ‘went wrong’ she could still feel proud of herself for trying. That you have to be in it to win it. I told her everyone would be feeling nervous. I reminded her of me singing that solo and how proud she was of me. And how sickeningly nervous I had been. She decided to go ahead.
And then quite unexpectedly she went and won.
Bravery quite literally paid off. But even if she hadn’t won the prize she still would have won in my eyes. All those competitors today are winners as far as I am concerned. Doing such a brave thing at age 9, or indeed any age, is something to be very proud of.
Well done all.