Don’t Raise Your Kid to Be an A$$
About two months ago my ten-year-old daughter was waiting on pins and needles to find out if she made pre-team at gymnastics. She wanted it so badly and was totally obsessed. We had no clue how she would fit it in with her other activities, but she was certain this was THE most important thing…like ever.
Finally, the news came. It turned out to be the best news ever. Well, from my perspective, not hers. She didn’t make the team. She was going to miss practice the day the coach was giving out the news and had to ask in advance. She wanted us to ask for her. There was no way we were going to do that. She timidly approached her coach (who is a total hard ass) and squeaked out, “Did I make it?” Her coach said no, and then proceeded to tell her what she needed to work on.
When she got home that night, she disappeared upstairs. My husband and I decided to go up and talk to her. We started to feel badly we made her go to the coach on her own, and started to second guess whether we were too strict with her. We walked up the stairs expecting to find her crying or otherwise sadly engrossed in some YouTube video. When we got up the stairs, we found her in the gym – practicing her strength and the skills her coach told her she needed to work on.
It was at that moment, I knew that her failure was absolutely the best thing that could have happened.
She then asked us to start taking her to more classes. She started taking two tumbling classes a week, an intermediate girls class and going to open gym for two hours on the weekends. She was incessantly handstanding all over the place. She did all the strength and core work at home. She would leave for school at 8 am and some days not get home until 8:30 pm. At that moment of failure she had a choice; quit, settle to just take classes, or work her a** off at something she was not naturally good at.
The week after she didn’t make team, I was at a business dinner and shared how happy I was she didn’t make the team. Another mother at the table looked at me like I was the worst mother ever – I didn’t care. She was seemingly appalled by my celebratory reaction to Antonella’s failure. Kids need to learn that they don’t get everything they want. Life is full of disappointments. You have to work (hard) for things you want and even when you do, you may not get them. They also need to learn that without failure, you don’t succeed.
Fast forward to last Monday night. Ella was working late after tumbling class on her back handspring and some other skills. We were the last to leave the gym around 8:45 pm. Late night for a 5th grader. She got home from gymnastics the next day and I happened to meet her in the garage as she got home – ready with my usual mom prodding about school, her friends, practice etc. She smiled coyly and looked down at the ground. She then told me Coach Brooke asked her to stay after. That’s when the coach told her she made pre-team. She had no idea. I had no idea. Her hard work had paid off. Her coach took notice. Antonella had EARNED her spot. It wasn’t given to her. Her coach followed up the good news with, “I only want kids who work hard. If you stop working hard, you will be removed from pre- team. If you keep working hard, you may actually make it from pre-team to team. Your work is just starting.”
In life we fail, in order to succeed, to keep working harder. Many adults haven’t figured this out yet. I am so inspired by Antonella. She makes me proud. I may also succeed at one of my life goals which is to not raise an a$$hole.