Last week my daughter learned a tough lesson about how our fantasies do not often dovetail smoothly with our realities 😔
Of course when our kids are learning lessons, we parents are learning the tough lessons right along beside them 😫
My daughter has a few friends at school who enjoy gymnastics and spend their recess time flipping around and cartwheeling across the playground. They are a year older. She looks up to these girls and a part of her really wants to be able to do these fancy gymnastics moves.
Here’s the thing though.
A couple of these girls are freakishly flexible.
My daughter is the opposite of freakishly flexible 😳
When we started looking for summer camp experiences, my daughter was adamant that she wanted to go to a gymnastics camp. Immediately my Mama Beardar (that’s my Mama Bear Protective Radar) perked up. “This is not a good idea” was the readout I was getting. I kept my mouth shut.
So she was signed up and in the weeks leading up to camp she would talk about how excited she was to go to the camp and about how she was "sure" that she was going to learn how to do cartwheels and handstands.
She even mentioned that maybe she could do two weeks of camp there 🤔
My Mama Beardar was going nuts!
See, I had a group of friends when I was in elementary school who spent recess doing cartwheels and backhandsprings and all of that fun (looking) gymnastics stuff. I tried to fit in. I’m not freakishly flexible either.
What did I get when I tried to do a back handspring? A headache from landing on my head! 😫
So off she went on the first day of camp. We talked about how feeling nervous and feeing excited feel the same in our bodies and so we focused on being excited. The conversation and reminder were for both of us 😬
I spent the day being slightly uncomfortable. Walking my talk, though, as I planned for the worst (her being miserable and refusing to return the next day) AND expected the best (that she have a great time). If I ask my clients to do that I better damn well practice what I preach!
Well, I pick her up and at first she says it was “O.K.”, but before we are even a mile away the tears started 😭
It took some sorting through, but what I got was that “all” the other girls knew how to do gymnastics, some of them quite well. Her attempts to sit out and observe (her go to move, which looks a bit like Sitting Bull at a protest 😳) did not fly with the counselors and so she participated without having a clue as to what she was doing.
Can you relate to that feeling? “Everyone” else knows what to do. You feel like you have no idea AND you can’t escape. Yep, for us adults especially, that’s the stuff of our nightmares 😬
So what do we do in situations like this? We look for someone else to connect with. Someone else who may not be an expert either.
Yeah, my daughter did that. There were two other girls who weren’t “good” at gymnastics. Guess what? They were “mean” 😔
Yep, so now it was time to deal with my parenting angst. My Mama Beardar had been spot on and now it was time to deal with the situation at hand.
We spent most of the evening talking it out.
Papa Bear was ready to open a can of Woop Ass on those “Gymnastic Girl Bitches” so he was dismissed from service to have a time out 😜
I thanked my Anxiety for it’s service in alerting me to the “danger” and then got on about teasing out “the good, the bad, and the ugly” from the day.
There was lots of conversation.
And then we went to bed.
Anxiety and I were up in the middle of the night. 🙄
We had a fairly pleasant conversation.
Oh, there were some What if’s initially.
Yeah, a bunch of fucking noise 🙄
Fortunately I don’t put up with Anxiety’s noise, especially in the middle of the night.
I answered all of the What if’s:
I am confident that while I may not like the options, I do have options.
While it may be uncomfortable, I can deal with whatever happens.
"Thanks for the strategy session Anxiety, now I’m going back to sleep" 😴
Oh, I didn’t mention all the angst around how my daughter was wrestling with this huge life lesson. Yeah, that was like the butter all over this piece of burnt toast 😜
My mantra as I drifted back to dreamland was “She will make her own choice”.
The life lesson for both of us was to face our fears, deal with our Anxiety, make a choice, and then take action.
So that’s what happened.
The next morning she rolled her sore body out of bed (and I mean literally rolled out of bed like the drama queen that she can be 🙄), shared that while she felt nervous she had decided to return and enjoy the fun parts and to challenge herself to deal with the harder parts, even the emotionally harder parts.
The car ride home after the second day was much different, full of smiles and tales of triumph rather than tragedy 🤩
Did she reach her goals of learning to do a cartwheel or handstand? Nope.
She did learn how to do a bridge and is still working on that at home over a week later.
Did she become best buddies with any of the girls? No, but she was kind to them and they were kind in return.
Was she proud of herself for proving that she could weight the pros and cons, make a commitment, and work toward her goals? Damn straight! 👊
Am I glad that I listened to my Anxiety and Mama Beardar AND that I chose to support rather than protect my daughter? Hell yes! 🙌
Was it challenging and uncomfortable being uncertain about what the “right” thing to do was? Umm...Yep!
Am I glad that I recognized that there was no “right” thing to do and that I let her work it out? Of course 😊
The voice behind Auntie Anxiety is Lynn Dutrow, Courage Coach and Counselor