One of the greatest joys I have in this journey of parenting, aside from passing down functional knowledge of how to appropriately use fuck as pretty much all parts of speech, is watching my children develop their talents and interests.
Elizabeth, for instance, is a pretty kickass softball player. She definitely gets that from her dad's side of the family as I have never been able to get the hang of any sport that required a ball. Or athletic talent, really. If wine bottle opening was a sport, I'd be a fucking Olympian, however. I did run cross country in high school but I'm pretty sure that since most of us looked like we were dying out there I blended right in...that and back in the day before children and poor life choices destroyed them, I had a pretty nice rack so most of the teenage boys were likely fixated on that.
I love getting out to her games, even when it is cold. If you know me, you know that I hate Spring. One year I swear to God every single game was below freezing. Because Spring is an asshole. But by God, every game I could get to I was there. Unfortunately I usually forgot my coat, so I also have likely done some frostbite damage...but I was there. Why?
Because that's what good parents do, and I like to pretend that is what I am. And also, because those young women worked their asses off, most days of the week. They came back, game after game, and played their best every time. Despite losing most games. Despite being down a ridiculous amount of runs. It was a pleasure and a joy to watch them grow throughout the season. It was a pleasure to watch a coach of a team that previously won against them pitch a fit like a two year old when, at the end of the season, they beat his team and he couldn't get it overruled. Those players EARNED that victory. Elizabeth was part of a team and was learning important life lessons and shit. Totally worth frostbite and having to be out in Spring weather.
Charlie and Alexis are on the competition dance team, which thankfully is an indoor sport and does not require me to be outside in weather below 50* for long periods of time. It does, however, require travel to dance competitions and fun shit like putting fake eyelashes on and learning the best way to bobby pin a hat to your child's head so it won't fall off (the answer, just in case you are wondering, does not involve a staple gun. I am neither going to confirm nor deny if I ever contemplated that.) Alexis had started out dance at the age of two and a half and cried. Every.Fucking,Class. She then soon got over her hatred of people and public and socializing and realized that she loves it. She is now getting ready to do her solo. Charlie...well, it's her first year on competition so we shall see if she decides to continue it or not. I'm not sure how much of her being on the team is related to her wanting to be like her big sister; however at this point I am just grateful that it is keeping her from hiring herself out for murder or espionage or other devious deeds so I'll take it.
I recently watched the two of them dance at an informal performance. I still get choked up watching them, just as I do when I see Elizabeth doing her thing on the softball field as well. All of the work, the injuries, the practices, the tears...all culminating in a performance where they make it look so easy. These girls go out there and dance despite injuries. Despite life happening, like cancer or the death of a parent or being bullied at school. The cost is well worth it, for a variety of reasons. The life lessons that they learn. The importance of hard work. Or camaraderie, especially with other females. The sting of losing along side the joys of winning. The importance of being a part of a team, but also of doing your part and improving yourself.
I simply don't know that as a parent, I can teach these lessons as well as others can. I am too involved. Too attached. Too protective. Too anxious. Would I make them take risks? Would I push them to their limits, even as they groan and protest? Would I stand by and let them fail when they don't do that hard work? As hard as it is to admit, the answer to all of those is probably no. I can't be that for my kids, for a number of reasons (and the first is likely that I am bat shit crazy...) I freely give them to other adults, professionals in their fields, to shape and to mold. To make them what I cannot, to say the things to them that need to be said. To shape them into the young women they will be (or are, in Elizabeth's case).
It does take a village. So to all of those coaches out there...the dance teachers...the school teachers..., baby sitters... daycare providers...4H leaders...thank you. Thank you for giving my child, and many others, a chance to grow and learn. Thank you for believing in my child. Thank you for seeing worth in my child participating, and for seeing potential. Thank you for putting my child in their place when they need it, and lifting them up when they are down. Thank you for taking your time, whether volunteer or paid, to invest in my kid, even knowing that she may not become a professional dancer, or softball player, or whatever. Thank you for seeing value in children's activities.