Photo by Jon Harper
I couldn’t help but notice that she chose to position herself at the back of the line. The spotlight isn’t for her. And yet when she is in it she shines. One by one they waited for their turn to hit. Some anxiously and some distractedly. Not her. She waited with one arm crossed behind her back.
After two shots they were to move to the next court. Some walked and some ran. She glided. As if that was what she had planned to do all along. When the baskets were empty they were to all help pick up. It was apparent that there are varying degrees of “picking up.” Her focus remained constant. Pick up as many balls as you can as quickly and efficiently as you can. That’s what she did.
Once they had gone through this routine several times they were allowed to get a water break. We shared a few moments before she was called back out onto the courts. She went when she was called, but not before giving me a quick love you.
Next they played a game that would result in someone eventually winning. It was her. The moment she won she looked over to me and silently mouthed I won. I gave a thumbs up and a big smile. She didn’t cheer or make a big deal about it. This is the same girl who upon winning six awards at her end-of-the-year-awards-ceremony, gave them all to her mother because she didn’t want the kids in her class that didn’t earn any to feel bad.
When her hour was up she came over to me feeling slightly dejected. I didn’t do that well, she said. I did my best to explain to her that she did fine. But I don’t think that I was convincing. This scene seemed all too familiar. Last week my daughter had been moping around the house with a sad expression for what seemed like hours. Actually, it was less than an hour, but it still went on longer than I thought it should.
At first she wouldn’t tell us why she was down. But then she finally shared with us what it was that was making her feel the way she did. She went on to say that all of her friends are good at a bunch of things and she is only good at one or two.
It bothered/bothers me that she feels this way. This is a girl who gets straight A’s, is athletic and beautiful (I am biased), and yet she still feels inadequate? Compared to whom? Or more importantly, compared to what? Is there some mythical standard that our girls are comparing themselves with?
I was able to watch my daughter play tennis this morning for what was almost an hour. She was magnificent and kind and athletic and beautiful. There are times when I truly wonder if she is an angel sent down from above. Whose sole purpose in life is to bring joy to those around her. She often comes home from school more excited about the achievements of those she has helped than her own achievements. Of which there are many.
And yet she still feels as if she doesn’t measure up?!
If my daughter, who is fortunate enough to live a good life and excel in many things, feels this way, then how must other, less fortunate girls feel? I shudder to think of the stress our girls put themselves through. Because they don’t … measure up?
It must stop now! We can no longer allow our girls to think poorly of themselves. We must continue to push the message that Angela Maiers has been spreading for years. Convincing kids and especially our girls, that they matter.
Today was a great day! I was able to watch my daughter play tennis and enjoy the pleasure of her company all day. Much of the day was simply spent relaxing around the house. At one point when I came downstairs I noticed that my daughter had draped a small blanket over her shoulders as if it were a cape. When she saw me she asked if I wanted to wear the cape and I immediately accepted. Ever so gently she made the transfer. And for a moment I thought that maybe I could fly and that maybe she is in fact an angel. I am unsure of the former, but becoming more and more certain of the latter.
Now is the time to convince our daughters that they are in fact amazing. They needn’t compare themselves with anyone and they have nothing to hide. I do not know why my daughter has a habit of holding her arm behind her back. Maybe it is just something she does without thinking. But today when I saw her do it I couldn’t help but wonder. Is she ready to show the world all that she is and all that she has. I will do everything in my power to help her believe that she is ready and that she is amazing. Because she is most certainly both. And a lot more!
“For a long time she flew, only when she thought no one else was watching.”