Thursday, April 28, 2016

Journey to the gym

Jordan's been putting in a lot of hours at the gym. She had a club meet last weekend. And despite the fact that it wasn't a big competition and it wasn't exactly high stakes, there had to be full-hearted commitment of time and effort.

So over the last months, it's been 10.5 hours at the gym full on. And for now, we're done.

What came out of it?

1. Tempering expectations.
This was more me than her. She had no problems getting top grades last year despite hours at the gym. This year, it's been more exhausting and there's a lot more work. Some things don't come as easily and there's a lot more struggling. But I also knew that this was going to be more important than keeping her nose in the books all the time just so that her grades kept up with last year. So, we made the conscious decision to let go a bit, close an eye and let her use this to learn something that no amount of studying was going to teach her.

2. Oodles of discipline.
Even then, what came out of it was then a juggling act we all had to perform. To make sure that we could get what was necessary done, everyone had to be on a schedule. It went against giving her time to be creative and time to play but it had to be done. There was value to that as well, laying all her cards on the table, training, homework, sleep (which was very necessary seeing the number of hours she spent training) and having her see what she needed to do and giving her the space to process how to do it.

3. Moving beyond the complaining.
There was whining and there was complaining and there was comparing. But I had learnt that as long as I gave her complaints air time, she would go on to do what was necessary. And that in itself was something admirable. She would do it. Despite the exhaustion and sometimes, even tears, she would get it done. She would express her feeling of being overwhelmed, we would acknowledge it, comfort her and let her go on and that she would.

4. Grace under pressure.
One of the reasons why the girls trained so hard was so that the moves they had to make became part of them. That was essential because nerves tended to hit big time during competition. And when they were going to be jumping and twirling on a beam 4 inches wide, nerves would be what would cause them to fall. So, at training, they went through the routines over and over again. They got yelled at about everything, right up to the twirl of their fingertips.

And we saw how that paid off. At warm up, with all the distraction and noise, there was a lot of falling off the beams and tripping about. As spectators, that worried us; what if the same thing happened during the routine? But the girls took it in the stride, with eyes forward. And for each and every one of them, during their actual routine, where it counted most, they did not fumble or fall. The training and the mental wind-up got them through the pressure of performing. And all looked cool as cucumbers despite the fact that Jordan had told me her heart was going to explode out of her chest. None of them looked it.

5. Cheerleaders
I asked Jordan if she wanted her friends around for her competition and she said yes. She brought some paper to school and wrote some invitations to some of her closest friends to ask them to come watch her. And they came, armed with banners, flowers and gifts. When she saw them, her grin threatened to split her face. It helped dissipate her nerves and made it all the more enjoyable for her. She is also so much more in love with her friends because they came when she needed them and she couldn't help gushing about it. I think she also felt that she had her own audience she wanted to perform for. I was very wowed by the fact that her friends and their parents made the effort to come Sunday morning to watch her and thank God that she has friends like them!

And then, it was over.

And she had done really well. In all the ways that mattered.
She had enjoyed herself.
She had given her best in every routine she performed.
She had remembered everything the coaches had drilled into her.
And she looked like she owned the routines.

The medals were just the icing on the cake.


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