Tuesday, June 19, 2012
On one side of the gym stands 7.
Or should I say, on one side of the gym bounces 7.
7 leaps and flips and contorts her body in myriad ways.
Her coach makes a minor correction to her form; tells her to tighten a specific muscle, to remember how it feels.
7 knows instinctively how to do what her coach asks.
"When I do it that way I feel springier! I feel, like, lighter. Like I am actually flying."
7 tries something new and doesn't succeed. 7 laughs out-loud at her mis-step and gets up to do it right.
7 lands a back-tuck for the first-time and yells out "That was AWESOME! Let's do it AGAIN!"
7's coach nods his head and tells her to get a drink of water.
He turns to me and says, "In all my years coaching I have only known a handful of athletes who are so in tune with their bodies. She not only knows exactly what to do to correct her form but she can tell you about it. It sounds like she's telling you a poem!"
I nod my head, baffled by this wondrous creature who somehow is born of my blood.
7 is amazing.
7 works hard for her coaches and for herself.
She is proud of the results and finds joy in the process of getting stronger and faster and more precise.
7 is amazing and she knows it.
She's not ashamed of being amazing, it's just how she is.
On the other side of the gym 14 is working through a private lesson with her coach.
14 is tall and lean; her legs are strong and tanned. She has clear skin and a perfectly swooshy blond ponytail. She is a gifted athlete--her front tuck is breathtaking.
14 is also amazing--but she doesn't want you to know it.
14 starts apologizing for her performance before she has even fully landed a round-off. She does so in that mumbly, self-effacing way that teenagers do so well. She almost flinches when her coach gives her feedback.
In between exercises, 14 stands slumped at the foot of the mat. Her shoulders are rounded inward, her belly hollowed. 14 is making herself small and unremarkable. (I know this trick well, sweet girl. I really really do.)
Oh 14, you hurt my heart.
7 is watching 14 ---and I am watching 7 watch 14.
7 is lying on her stomach with her feet kicking in the air. Her chin rests in her hand and her head is slightly cocked. She is watching 14 with wide eyes, studying her every move.
7 could very well grow up to look a lot like 14. Their coloring is the same, they both are 70% leg.
Please let the resemblance end there.
Please let 7 remain so very *7* for a long, long time.
I've been 7, and I turned into 14 (long before I was *actually* 14)--and more than anything I want to spare my daughter that perilous slide from self-confidence into self-criticism.
I want her to always know that she is amazing and that that is ok.
It's better than ok--it's amazing.
And there's nothing wrong with that.