Rebecca Ellsworth Menzie | Not a Track Star

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Rebecca Ellsworth Menzie enjoys being a wife and mother, baking, quilting, reading, gardening, triathlon-ing, blogging, and most recently writing her mom's life story.

Sometime last fall, my 14 year-old daughter Christina announced she wanted to do track.  Imagine my surprise, considering I'd never seen Christina run, jog, or walk for exercise, not to mention she hasn't participated in a team sport since elementary school soccer (I think she did two seasons).  Honestly, I thought she was kidding, but she brought this up a couple more times, and then she went and signed herself up! The Saturday before track started, Christina suited up in workout clothes, borrowed my old running shoes, and said, “I'll be right back.  I'm going to ‘take a run.'”  I scratched my head and chuckled. And she was off.

After a couple weeks, I asked Christina what event she was doing.  She answered, “The 100.  I can't run very far.”  Again, I'm taken aback.  I don't know any sprinters in our pedigree.  Not one.  “Any other events?” I ask.  “Nope. Just the 100.”  After discussing her times, and how she fared in meets, it was clear that she was at the back of the pack…..for her single event.  My husband and I wondered if the $240 athletic fee was worth it.  But having that feeling that there was more to this for Christina than whether she was an emerging track star, we decided to support her.  We made the extra trips to the school for practices and meets.  We purchased workout clothes, the team sweatsuit, & spiked shoes for our sprinter. We had conversations about the benefits of her participating in track.

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Source:  istockphoto

We talked about how this is good for Christina's health.  She's not growing in height anymore, and so it's important to be active in order to stay in good shape. She can always go jogging—it requires minimal gear, just get up and go. Jogging gives quick positive boosts to mental and physical well-being.  It's good for your bones.

While we asked about her times and placement at meets, that has always been secondary to how much effort she puts into her races.  We asked questions like, “How do you feel about how things went?”  “What went well?”  “Is there anything you'd like to change?”

Christina has come in last place A LOT.  At first this was embarrassing and discouraging for her.  No one likes coming in last place.  But since when is last place equivalent to failure?  I shared with her how I quit the track team in high school because I was too scared to compete.  I was afraid of not doing well.  I let my fear of failure keep me from what could have been a great experience on the track team.  To see my daughter get out there and go for it regardless of where she places, and having the confidence to sign up for a sport she knew nothing about before high school, makes me beyond proud…

So, no, Christina's not a track star, but she's a star nonetheless.

***

Since when is last place equivalent to failure?  A keeper line.  Why is the willingness to come in last place essential to achieving our dreams?

As parents we really are the gatekeeper to our children's dreams — when our children want to do something that they aren't good at — do we support them anyway?

What are you doing right now that you don't do well?  Will you give your self an atta girl?

You may also enjoy Giving Our Children the Space to Dream and The Long of Coming Up Short.

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