Tuesday, July 24, 2012

i did it!

the past few days have held several moments of joy for both kids, times where they felt a great sense of accomplishment and confidence in themselves.

at her last diving class of the session, diana was able to catch a ring thrown to her in midair while she dove off the board.  she had been frustrated with her previous attempts to do it, so the success was all the sweeter to her, because she recognized she had done something challenging.

ander, while waiting for his soccer practice to begin, decided to try climbing the rock wall at the playground.  he needed me to spot him and help guide his feet the first few times, then he did it on his own.  over and over.  each time, i could see that he was looking and feeling carefully for hand- and foot-holds, and he was so very, very proud each and every time he climbed on his own, saying "i did it all by myself!"

i cannot reach the top of this wall from the ground, even standing on tippy-toes with my fingers stretched way over my head, just to give my readers some perspective here.

we headed back to old sac for another time travel weekend where diana was going to dance with her group again.  her experience last week led her to practice more this week and spend concentrated effort in her class to work on her steps.  it also gave us time to talk at length about how this kind of performance is different than what she may have been used to seeing or participating in - it's expected that the other dancers will clap and yell her name and whoop and holler - and knowing this, she could feel encouraged rather than distracted.  she also had the time to adjust to the change of venue - outdoors on an impromptu stage is different than indoors in a dance studio or even on an indoor stage where she has practiced on and off for a couple of years.  i have not really been an onstage performer, so while i can appreciate that it takes effort to figure out how to adjust to a different size and kind of floor, i don't know it firsthand (i'm sure dancers and actors know it well - that's why there are dress rehearsals, right?).  it can also be unnerving for a young (or any age?) performer to have a line-up or song order change up until the last minute until, or even during, a performance.

she handled it adeptly.  she handled it much better than i did, for example, when i was not there with her shoes or the rest of her costume on time.  unbeknownst to me, the performance time was set for 11 am, not noon, and so ander and i were off enjoying our first ice cream of the day when i got a phone call from her, asking very calmly for me to get there right away, as she was getting on stage AT THAT VERY MOMENT.  she went out and danced the first song in her socks without any problem, even completing the opening step she was sure she wouldn't have the timing right for, but did.  then she had her shoes and smiled and was charming and entertaining for the remainder of the performance.  despite being super hot, she enthusiastically came out to the audience to hug ander (at his request) after each of her songs, then went quickly back to prepare for the next one.

yes, both of her feet are well off the floor here.
i'm still kicking myself for missing that opening dance and not capturing it on video to share with steve.  diana was disappointed, too, that ander and i were not there because she thought it was her very best one.  at least i saw her each and every other time she came out onto that stage with a smile on her face and definite springs in her step (which for irish dance is especially important).

her teachers talked with both of us afterwards about how diana did this time, and so did another reenactor who had been there for last week's performance.  it's lovely to have such positive and specific feedback, especially when it's consistent with diana's self-evaluation (she can totally tell when people are bull@#$%ing her about her work or just trying to make her feel better, trust me.)

diana had been nervous that morning, as expected.  but that day was amazing for her.  she spent a lot of time in the green room for the reenactors and she watched performers rehearsing with each other.  she saw the villain and his son working out their duel moves for the melodrama "the villain's revenge" and it suddenly became clear to her that the excellent performance she had seen them give on the stage of the eagle theatre was the result of hard work and plenty of practice before and in between each performance.  she recognized that she was among others, like the ladies from the ballet russe in the "new golden melodeon review," who spent time and effort dedicated to honing their craft and did not stop once the performance was over - there was always an opportunity to improve.  she loved being in the green room and feeling like she belonged.

the kids weren't the only ones who felt proud of themselves.  i did, too.  i saw each of my children step away from the comfort and security of my attentive care, venture out and try something new, and succeed on their own.  they experienced for themselves that they were capable and strong.  it wasn't about me telling them they could do it, it was about them telling themselves they could.  and through each moment, i stepped back and bit my tongue.  i did not offer any words on my own, i responded only when they asked for my feedback.  i didn't say, "i knew you could" because it didn't matter that i knew, what mattered was that they knew.  i cheered and hugged and congratulated and glowed quietly on the sidelines while they shone in the spotlight.  i was proud of myself, too.  that was evidence of my personal growth.

i believe that my continuous close presence and involvement with my children allows them to blossom in their own time.  letting diana cling to me (emotionally and physically) when she feels she needs to gave her the courage to walk off on her own, confident that she was ready to take on a personal challenge without me right by her side.  under my attentive guidance, ander is learning to gauge with greater accuracy what he is capable of physically mastering.  i do not throw them into the deep end of the pool, counting on my confidence that they will learn to swim.  i encourage them to wade in the shallow water first, staying as firmly attached to me as they desire, moving away and then back and away again as they gain their footing.  i am in no rush for them to become independent.  i do not wish to be a force that pushes them out or pulls them along.  i want to be the steadfast tree with roots planted firmly and branches that give sway in the wind, strong yet flexible.

i am happyer at home because i am home to and for my children.



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