With young children, challenges never seem to cease (well, that’s the case with adults too, nevertheless). Every day is a new day, a new learning, a new challenge. As parents, we take it upon ourselves because we assume it is our burden to endure. We are often mistaken, because our children know better. They know and learn, from us, that life is not just about achieving but also about learning, unlearning and learning some more, every day. In a bid to make an important statement for Little Miss 8, I learnt a very valuable lesson from her, just a few days ago.
So it was her gymnastics competition the other day and she and I knew this was a toughie, considering the lack of practice due to winter vacations. Nevertheless, her trainer got into top gear and made her practice a bit more than usual. We were somehow hopeful she would do better than how she had prepared. The day arrived and she was cheerful right in the morning, all geared up to face the day. Nervously, I sent her to school, from where she was to accompany her team to the venue.
I was sitting in my office, practically biting my nails at the time I knew she was to perform. No news had come from her trainer as well, even after a few hours of event wind-up. But then later, Little Miss 8 called me herself. I was excited to know how it all went but there was something else that played in her voice. She was not only excited but she also sounded triumphant. I knew there was some exciting news on its way and then she said, ‘I fell from the balancing bar four times…but that doesn’t matter because the forward leap that I had been missing all these days during practice on the bar went smoothly.’ I kept listening. ‘I did it, mama!’ she said cheerfully. A feeble smile emerged on my lips and suddenly I could feel my heart swell with pride.
Here I was hoping that the news I would hear would be of how she had performed better than the others while what I got was completely unexpected. What I was told was a bigger achievement, I realized. What I learnt today was that it’s not always important that we fare better than the others; sometimes it makes for a bigger achievement if we defeat our fears and beat our own records. She had long hung up and the remaining hours at work became unbearable for me. I wanted to hug her, kiss her forehead and tell her how proud I was of her. But that had to wait. Also, because that was not the only lesson I was about to learn that day.
In the evening when we met, she was still practicing in her class. Her trainer was barking instructions at her and she complied with each of them, jumping, skipping, leaping. My tapping feet clearly proclaimed that my patience was running out, while I sat at the sidelines watching her concentrate. Soon it was time for me to meet her. As soon as her class got over, she ran towards me, just like every day. I hugged her, just like every day. She began narrating how her day went and all the relevant/related details, just like every day. She knew I was listening to her, while my smile perfectly covered my anxiety. I was expecting to hear more about what had happened at the competition. She, on the other hand, was more interested in telling me how she was feeling. The joy, the twinkle eyes, the bouncy feet all broadcasted that she was the winner that day, regardless of what the judges had announced. The next lesson I learnt that day was how our personal happiness is so much bigger than success based on someone else’s parameters.
And then, on our drive back home, out of the blue she said that she would use the diary, that I had got her a few days ago, as a message book where she could write messages for me and I could write some for her as well. We mutually agreed that we should begin the next day. Of course, like all such mutually agreed, out of the fly things, this was forgotten the very next day as well….till I sneaked into the diary that was carelessly lying on her bed this weekend. I peeked…yes, I cheated. Amongst a few doodles there it was written, in a casual running hand, ‘Mama, I will always make you proud.’ Tears welled up in my eyes. I was guilty of being the trophy-seeking mom without really knowing where my child’s true happiness lies. I picked up a pen and scribbled on the next page, “Mama is so proud of you and will always be”.
Not because she needed some inspiration. But, because I did.
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