I never did much as a child that involved competition. I was always "the smart kid", but since that just made me an outcast I never saw it as a great talent. When I got a little older I was involved in "artsy" type activities, not ones that had winners and losers. I tried volleyball for a year, but that didn't stick. I was on math team and speech team, but I enjoyed preparing for those more than I enjoyed the actual competitions. So when both my kids insisted in doing competitive sports I was at a loss as to how to handle it.
I handled Curly Q's dance very poorly. I partially blame myself for the fact that she got so overwhelmed with it. I knew nothing about dance, let alone dance competition, and the learning curve was steep. By the time I figured it out it was too late for me to be any help to her. I do know that competition doesn't sit very well with her, but I wonder if that is the product or cause of her troubles in dance company. By the time she quit dance company her spirit was broken and her love of dance was fading fast. She has spent this year trying to find it, but I am not sure it will ever get back to the level it was before. Was this destined to be because of her personality? Could I have handled things in a way that preserved her enthusiasm and allowed her to strive to be better? Was it because of her teachers attitude?
Fast forward to Bear. Her experience in the dance company was fine. A combination of great teammates and the fact that she didn't really think of it as competition allowed her to escape unscathed. Then she joined gymnastics team. In some ways gymnastics is much more competitive than dance was, and Bear is far more competitive than Curly Q will ever be. She wants to do well, and when she flubs up it makes her mad. Still, she handles the pressure so differently than Curly Q did. Somehow she manages to let that fuel her. Is it because I am so much more at ease with gymnastics? I mean at least I understand most of the scoring in gymnastics (as opposed to dance). Is it her amazing coaches who in Claire's words, "...know exactly the right thing to say to me...?" Is it because her team has the perfect balance of personalities? Is it because they are winning?
Her team is doing really well. They are ranked 31 in the whole country!!! There have to be over 1500 teams in the country. That makes her team is one of the top 2% of teams in the country. It's a lot easier to be good sports with that knowledge. But I know it is more than that because Bear isn't one of the top scorers on her team, and sometimes that bothers her. She never gives up though. Each meet she sets some goal for herself, and she has met most of them because she makes them challenging, but within her means. What 7 year old can do that? I certainly couldn't do it at 7. So a big part of her success has to be her natural inborn attitude. Which is a good thing since that's the thing she will have with her forever, no matter what else happens.