Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Coming into their own- Jordan

Evan's character building moment for the year was having gone away to camp with Packrat. Jordan's came in the form of the inter-club gymnastic competition that she chose to take part in. She wanted to take part in it because she wanted to win some medals.

A week before the meet, she realises that taking part wasn't really going to be enough to win the medals, she actually had to do well enough to get placed.

On her own accord, she ramped up her training sessions. The two weeks before the meet saw her practically live at the gym, going every other day and towards the end. every day. 3 days before the meet, she had a freak out melt down about not being able to turn herself on the uneven bars. She was convinced that if she didn't, she would not win. It took us an hour to talk her down from that.

But whatever she put herself through, it paid off. Her coaches told us about the focus and glint in her eye when she was on the floor and even though she didn't get a gold medal for any of the events, she was placed in every single event and managed to come in 2nd overall.


Going through the motions

My mother tells me that when I was eleven, something clicked in my head and I realised that if I put in effort into my work, it would pay off. She tells me that it was the same year that I entered and won my first competitive sporting event; I took part in a swim meet and won in the events that I swam in. She thinks that it made me realise that there was a correlation between working hard and succeeding. 

I think Jordan's figured that out. 4 years before I did. 

So pleased, she is. 

The challenge for us is to manage her. Well, me specifically. Packrat says that Jordan is a clone of me. That perfectionist, high strung, achievement oriented and competitive streak got passed down to her by the buckets. And through this entire experience, we learnt that

1. Like me, she drives herself into a frenzy because of her own extremely high expectations. Hence, the melt down. Thankfully, I've gone through enough of them in my life time to know that the melt down is necessary as an outlet for the build up of stress. And after that, it'll be okay. But at 7, she needs someone around to talk her down from it.

2. Remind her that no matter how high the stakes are, she has to have fun and enjoy doing it. Before her rotations began, I took her aside and we prayed and then I told her that the most important thing was to enjoy herself out there. And if she could do that, the medals would be easier to come by. So when she ended up every routine with a face splitting grin, I knew that regardless the previous freak outs, she was doing okay.

3. We cannot belittle her expectations. Telling her that it's okay if she doesn't win might be our way of telling her we won't be angry or upset with her if she doesn't win. To us, it's a good thing. But to her, telling her it's okay that she doesn't win when she badly wants to, it is that we aren't supportive of goals and we don't think highly of it.

4. We have to teach her to take instruction. Jordan's got an athlete's personality. Their perception of their abilities is sometimes over inflated, especially when they think they've already got it. Jordan's a little bit like that. She knows she's good but because of that, she thinks she no longer needs to listen. This is something that extends into her academic work as well.

5. We have to teach her about failure. As far as possible, I don't ever want her to fear failure. Inevitably, she will. It is one of the pillars of why Singapore is so successful. But I also know this fear is crippling and is what kept me from achieving greater athletic success. So I sit with her and talk to her about how falling off the beam isn't because she is lousy at it but because she didn't hold in her muscles enough to stay up; that her slightly weaker placings on the floor and the vault weren't condemning her but where she had to listen to her coaches more about how to make it better.

But none of them really take anything away from her victory of last weekend. She deserved every medal she got. We told her how proud  we were of how hard she worked and what she achieved because of it. It's a mouthful of praise but worth a lot more to her than telling her how good she was.


  1. Jordan looks very pretty and that bit of confidence will take her far. Congrats on the medals!