I try hard to steer my kids away from pop stars and famous people in general. I don't allow the kids to have posters of them in their room--not because I think they are bad or anything, but mainly, because it's so easy to idolize them for their looks, fame and money. And pretty soon, our lives seem to pale in comparison. It's easy to get off-track about what our life really is--and life is hard enough without getting caught up in superficial things.
But when it comes to Olympic Athletes, that's another story. These athletes have set a goal and worked hard all their life to get it. Their lives tell a story about working hard to get what you want. And my kids need these inspirations.
Now true, we can get this from the saints as well, and I do use the Saints as examples. But having a real life example who happens to be in your neck of the woods is too hard to pass up!
Meeting Gabby Douglas gave me a chance to tell the kids the little bit that I have heard about her. That she was an energetic child and was put in gymnastics to help burn off a little bit of her energy, only to discover that she had amazing talent. That she had a dream to get to the Olympics one day and had to work really hard to achieve that dream.
One thing I've noticed about my kids--they are all afraid of failure! I guess this is normal human fear, and I also have been afraid of failure. But the anxiety that I see from them over the possibility of failing is worrisome. Sometimes when they do fail at something, I'm actually glad. Because now that gives us the opportunity to work on learning to try again!
|Gabby Douglas signing Anna's gymnastics uniform|
I suppose that sounds weird to hear that I want my kids to fail once in a while. It's weird to write it too. But I think there's nothing worse than not trying because you're afraid of failing. And nothing more inspiring and rewarding to achieve something that you worked hard on. Not because you're good at it, but because you kept trying! That's inspiring to me.
(Worth watching! A cool video on Gabby Douglas "failures")
So yes, I use whoever and whatever I can to inspire my kids to keep trying. I don't mind them putting a poster up of someone who worked hard for something. Saints and athletes, that's what graces my walls.
Anna is in gymnastics and Lucy's in ice skating. Both are pretty good at what they do, but they're finding out the higher you go, the harder it becomes! The skills get harder, the hours get longer, the coaches get tougher. They expect more out of you and push you to do your best. That's good for the kids and they feel so good about themselves when they finally master something that was really hard for them to do.
Last week, Anna's coach couldn't pass her because Anna didn't master her Bridge Kick-overs. But, she gave Anna another chance: if she practiced all week and got that mastered, then she could move on to the next level.
Anna practiced for maybe a day. That skill did not get mastered.
And then, she met Gabby Douglas today! She had no idea who she was until I told her, and she was inspired enough to try harder with her Bridge Kick-overs. And she did it!
You see, this is all I want the kids to learn! To just keep trying. I don't care if they succeed the first time or maybe not at all. I just want them to try.
I've never been good at school. I remember in high school vividly studying tests and still getting D's. It was really hard on my self-esteem and I wondered why I was so stupid.
Now in my adult years, I can see that those tough times taught me about endurance and trying again and again. There were times that I didn't succeed but I couldn't fault myself for not at least trying. And I knew that if I ever had kids, that besides our Faith, that would be the one thing I would want them to learn: to not get tripped up on their ego and be afraid to try again.
Lucy's prayer tonight warmed my heart: "I want to be like Gabby Douglas and work hard on what I want. Except I don't want to be a gymnast, I want to be an ice skater."
Whatever she wants! Just so long as she tries her best. Then Mama's happy.