I watched her through the glass, her tiny, muscular body swinging and pushing through yet another bar routine. It’s not often that I have the opportunity to sit and just watch these days. Life is busy and the demands are high, so watching is a luxury.
But I really love to watch her in her element.
When Tia started gymnastics at age 3, we had no idea that she would develop into a competitive gymnast. All we wanted to do was channel her monkey energy into someplace safer than the top of our ten-foot basketball goal.
She’s nine now, and for six years Lee and I have been in constant conversation about her participation in this sport. Is this the right thing? Is it too much? Is it too hard on her body?
On more than one occasion, I’ve wondered if we should pull back. Maybe it would be better if she just did it for fun. Then I laugh.
My competitive daughter would not understand the meaning of doing something for fun. If you’re not there to win, what’s the point?
As I watched her yesterday, she made eye contact with me and I knew that something was bothering her. I could tell on her face so I mouthed, “What’s wrong?”
She pointed to her head. “I have a headache,” she said.
We looked at each other for a moment, and I was immediately ready to take her out and bring her home, because I understand headaches, and the thought of her practicing for three more hours with a pounding head made my mom-heart hurt.
As if reading my thoughts, she shook her head slightly. “I’m okay,” she said. Then she wiped her eyes, took a deep breath, and jumped back up on the bars.
I am constantly amazed at my daughter’s tenacity. She’s driven by an inner force that I admire, and as I watch, I’m learning. I’m becoming a student of my child. While I know and recognize her weaknesses, and I’m constantly working to help her overcome them, I also see her strengths.
I see her willingness to push through pain in order to become better. I see her dedication, and the way she works without complaining. I see her set goals, and then not let anything get in her way as she works to accomplish them.
My daughter is a dream chaser. She sees obstacles, and she doesn’t stop to wonder if it’s possible to reach her goal. She simply believes that she can. And if it’s hard, or maybe a little scary? Well, that’s all the more reason to try as far as she’s concerned.
Dream chasing is natural to kids. I don’t know what age the belief that dreams can come true begins to darken into the more realistic approach of adulthood, but I wonder at what my influence could possibly do to my kids’ willingness to chase their dreams. Am I giving them the confidence to keep chasing, or do I hold them back, forcing them to face reality?
Of course, reality must be faced at some point. I do NOT think that point is nine years old. If Tia wants to shoot for the Olympics right now, then she has my full support. If, at 16, she still thinks she can make it and it’s apparent that the Olympics aren’t in her future, I’ll work that out with her then.
I refuse to be a dream crusher, but I also don’t want to be a false encourager.
Because let’s face it – we’ve all seen American Idol, and we’ve wondered why someone didn’t have the guts to tell some of those kids that they couldn’t sing before they went on TV and made fools of themselves.
It’s a tricky business, navigating the waters of dream chasing with our kids. We want their success, and yet we also want to protect them from disappointment. And we must always make sure that we are not projecting our own dreams for our children onto them unfairly.
And so, as my daughter chases her dreams, and her brother’s each chase dreams of their own, I sit back and I watch. I admire their courage, and I applaud their hard work. Then I sit down and look at the goals I have written out for myself. The more realistic, grown up dreams of the present that are entirely possible with a little hard work and dedication.
Dream chasing, you see, isn’t just child’s play.
In light of this topic, I’m excited to announce that I’m joining the writing team over at God-Sized Dreams. It’s time to stop talking about what we want to do with our lives, and start doing something about it. So if you’re a dream chaser, or if you’re looking to rekindle the magic of an old dream you’d long since given up, please join me and the other ladies as we chase the dreams that are placed on our hearts.