Monday, July 25, 2011
E on the Diving Board 07/20/11
I was a diver in High School and in College. It's not like I wanted to do it all my life and came from an extensive or even shallow line of divers in my family. I wanted to try it out and in doing so realized that it was pretty fun and easy and I wasn't too bad at it. The perfect sport for me. I was REALLY lucky to have been spared any grotesque accidents, cumulative head trauma, or any other gnarly incidents as a result. The only owie that ever came of being a diver was at VC in attempting to expand my high dive repertoire...I can say that one should have COMPLETE CONCENTRATION while hurling oneself off of a 3 meter board...because any lack thereof can be painful. A slightly off day for me lead to 3 stress-fractured ribs...thanks to a tweaked rotation that I didn't feel until it was too late...and a landing much like jumping off the roof and landing directly on concrete. Water can do that, you know? Act like concrete...trust me.
I've not ever been one to place seedlings of thought into my kids heads about being aeroballistic acrobats. I've actually NOT mentioned it because I have this thing about the fact that they can't dive with helmets. Safety first, right? I know I already said that I was lucky, but I'm saying it again. Never hit my head on the board EVER...lucky. I will admit that I HAVE told J and W that they shouldn't count on playing football. Baseball to their hearts content. Be swimmers. Play water polo. Play soccer. Any sport where I won't have to watch your collar bones snap while some beast is trying to hit you so hard you see stars. Please. (3 football players my senior year with broken collar bones.) Yes, I'm a freak. I know that already. The thing is, when it comes down to it, if they REALLY want to, I'll probably relent. It's just now, when they're small and I still have a big bubble around them that I talk big.
So, my kids have been taking swimming lessons this summer. Not so much to make them become competitive swimmers and want to be lifeguards (hint hint), but more because swimming, I believe, is an integral skill to possess. In the process, at the end of each class, the teachers let their students jump from the diving boards, 1 meter or 3 meter, whichever the student chooses. It was during a class that I had attended that I got to witness my daughter NOT want to dive. Now, as a past diver, shouldn't I have been more encouraging or SOMETHING??? Shouldn't I have tried to stoke her up on what it feels like to rotate and execute a perfect dive? Hmmm...nope. I could see her nervous about the depth of the pool. And in as much as I DID offer words to just jump, there wasn't a whole lot in me that wanted her to follow that particular aspect of my life.
'k, so all over the blog board (as usual, I know), the point is that even though we want our children to forge ahead using trails that we have blazed ourselves, there's a beauty (oh, dear, a fear even) in allowing their distinct personalities to define their interests. I think, in my children's cases, my youngest would probably LOVE anything that I said I had done or loved myself just because that's who he is...which is why I find myself making deliberate choices about how I word my preferences. Granted, I'm super flattered that he thinks so much of me, but I realize (sigh) that the time will come when he won't...and he'll wonder if he loves all of these things because he does or because I do...at which I hope he'll see that it's more because I really wanted him to do and love because he was moved to do so. Except the football thing. Just kidding.
I think it's my responsibility as a mother to prepare them for the living in the world...but more importantly knowing themselves and living in the world. Meaning, I know what I like because I know who I am. Certainly, there are many levels of "who I am", and at specific stages, a mother is more hands on, more instructive, more in control, but there are instances where I have to catch myself and allow mistakes, failure, even a small measure of pain (riding a bike for the first time) in order for the growth to come...DON'T relate that to football. ;) I've tried to raise them to be able to think on their own...to discern. Sometimes it works and sometimes not, but in terms of becoming me...please don't. I'm NOT saying that from the beginning we should be hands off. I believe that there must be a foundation. I AM saying that it's important to understand that in EVERYTHING our posterity will eventually come to choose what they want, what they believe and what they will do.
I have dreams for my own...to travel and discover...to embrace the amazing, surprising things in the world that are unique and special...but that means they'll be exposed to some horrifying, trying, challenging things...and my equal hope is that they'll be able to filter, understand, accept, and apply to a degree, the things that come in to their lives...through THEIR eyes, not so much mine. If my children are my future I think I have to work harder, and smarter at allowing them to figure out how to walk confidently in this world. Every day, little by little. It's an ideal. I guess in that moment with my little girl on the board I think it hit me...you don't have to follow me...I'll walk with you for a while and then you can go on to be who YOU want to be...just take my best parts with you, if you'd like...but make them more your own. You can do this.