Sometimes it’s hard to be a parent. Sometimes it can be very messy and disorganized. And for the rest of you dads out there (and mom’s) – you know it often takes a great deal of love, patience and the simple trust in “letting go.”
My kid’s are involved in a variety of sports – hockey, soccer, figure skating, and competitive swim & diving. The most recent season has been summer swim and dive, and they just recently completed their respective city swim and dive competitions. The teams, and the kids placed really well this year. And we’ve been really proud of them in how they’ve stuck with the sport, endured the early morning practices, a more “focused” professional coach, and persisted in improving their individual times and dives. But it’s also been slightly nerve-racking watching our kids do these flips and turns off the high dive.
My daughter has shown some real diving talent for her age, and her coaches pushed her this season to some more advanced dives. And she did really well off both the 1 and 3 meter boards. Until the city competition, that is. During her warm up’s on the 3 meter board she over rotated on a flip, came too far forward, and did a “face – smacker.” She hit hard.
Now, not only does this hurt quite a bit, but it’s fairly embarrassing in front of all of the city’s best divers, parents, friends, family, coaches – and her little brother. My first instinct was to jump from the stands and scoop her out of the water, console her, and just have her stick with the low dive. Keep it safe and stick with what she’s used to doing.
But I sat on my hands (literally) up in the stands and watched her pulled herself out of the pool. Her face was wet – and red, and I could distinguish the tears from the pool water. Her coach and teamates made sure she was physically alright, along with doing their best to raise her spirits. But she was shaken. My wife and I could see it.
So warm ups continued, and my daughter took her place back in line, looking up at the high dive, dreading her climb up. Although she had every confidence coming into the meet that she had learned and conquered these new “high dives”, she took a hard hit (literally) and in her gut was ready to just go back doing the “low dives.” The problem with that is that the “low dives” don’t rack up as many points for your team or individually. And she wanted to medal in this meet. And she wanted her team to be in the top 3 at least.
So she climbed up the ladder apprehensive as all get out. She looked down at her coach for guidance and reassurance. She looked over at us for courage and possibly some magical way out of this. And she looked back at all those kids, her competition, behind her waiting to dive. And then she walked out to the end of the board – and stood there.
I know it wasn’t actually that long that she stood there, but it started to feel like a long time. There were kids encouraging her, and there were kids who were not so encouraging (as kids can be). And she still stood there looking at the water contemplating victory or “death.”. I heard people around me saying things like “oh no” and “she’s not going to make it.” I sat there praying, staring at my little girl and asking for divine intervention.
And then she took two steps and went for it! And she dove perfectly. She medaled in the city dive meet, and her team placed in the top 3. She achieved all of her objectives by focusing on her goals, trusting the methods and executing on her plan. And all I had to do was “let go.”