My Daughter, My Hero
I am not the mom that puts my kids in a ton of activities. I know better than to overwhelm myself as 4 kids requires a lot of time and effort already. My kids get one activity each. My oldest is currently in cross country and when that ends he will play basketball. My younger son does a parkour class for little guys, he loves bouncing off objects, doing handstands and swinging over obstacles from a bar. My youngest is only 2…she thankfully isn’t interested in much yet. So, that leaves my oldest daughter… my favorite 8 year old is in gymnastics. She goes twice a week which means we ALL go twice a week. We usually sit in the car for an hour and a half outside the gym…we use to go inside and hangout in the waiting room, but we figured out that we could use this time to complete homework and read in the car.
Our routine was great. Every day of the week one or two of the kids had their unique activity. Things were happy and equal…until, my favorite 8 year old also wanted to do cross country with her school. I looked into it. I read the flyer, talked with the coach and weighed the pros and cons. The pros were that my daughter would get to hang out with her friends during practice, be part of a school team, and that she would be happy. I know, you may be thinking that I should have signed her up just for that last pro. The cons in my eyes were far greater. She would have to stay an hour later at school one day a week…which meant that I would have to stay later while chasing a toddler and having my son in tow. She would also be doing activities 3-4 days a week instead of two. So I decided with torn feelings that she would sit this year out from that activity.
Let me tell you, I had one unhappy child. She was upset that she couldn’t join mostly because she wanted to be with her friends. I had quite a few beautiful mom-friends offering to give her rides home if I would let her join the team, but I knew my answer would stay no. On most of the practice days I would pick her up crying, because she felt like she was missing out. Even the meets were tough for her because they were combined with the middle school meets (where we were going to watch her brother.) She had a hard time supporting her schoolmates because she was still sad to not be a part of it.
We were all playing at home one night and we got a package. My husband helped the kids open it and it was full of fun stuff for them to play with. There were hand radios for the boys, money to spend, hair accessories for the girls and the most plush, fluffy, high quality lion costume, ever. The costume was instantly a hit. My oldest tried it on and it was about 8 inches too short on the arms and legs but that didn’t stop him from chasing the baby around the living room and making her giggle. Then my favorite 8 year old tried it on and it fit perfectly. She started doing cartwheels around the couches and a light bulb went on. We decided that she could be the unofficial school mascot and cheer on her friends at the next cross country meet.
She waited all week to wear it. I sent a text to the coach, who is a friend of mine, and asked her if it would be ok for my girl to cheer the team on in the lion suit; she loved the idea. So Friday rolled around, I thought she may back out, get shy, or too hot, but that girl was committed. She got out of the car, ran right to her school’s tent and was high-fiving and hugging the team. Kids from middle schools were talking to her and begging her to high-five them, little siblings had huge smiles when she passed by and all of her friends were around her, rubbing her fur. It was enough to make me cry…I was so proud.
My step-mom had sent the kids this box to tell them that she was thinking about them. She didn’t know that our elementary school mascot was a lion, she was just sharing something with the kids that she thought they would enjoy. That costume was the tool that we were missing to help nudge my girl into being part of the team that she so badly wanted to be included in. She smiled, cartwheeled and celebrated the kids as they crossed the finish line. It was a beautiful moment for her and for me. My heart was exploding for my girl, she found joy in the situation.
We don’t always get to do the thing that we want to do, as kids or adults. But sometimes, something comes along that is just as good…or even better.