Friday, May 16, 2014

Cheerleader/Coach Parenting

I had one of those "out of body" experiences the other day.  And no, it had nothing to do with dying and seeing a bright light.  I saw myself being "that" mom.  The mom running up and down the sidelines at a sporting event, completely oblivious to everyone else.

My children have never played organized sports before.  My 8 year old, though, decided this year that she wanted to sign up for the Orem Track Club.  Random.  They each get to choose one activity each year, and that's what she chose. (After finding out the archery class was filled up).

We went to her first track meet, not really having any idea what to expect.  She is not a fast runner, so she came in last in most of her events, but she still finished with a smile each time.  Isn't that part of the reason we do these things, to enjoy ourselves, not just to win?

Anyway, we had some discussions about maybe trying some of the longer distances, even though they were for the older kids.  She does not come from a family history of sprinters. :) We decided the 800m (about 1/2 mile) might be better for her.  So, we mapped out how far that was around our neighborhood so she could practice.  She ran the first time in 6min 8 sec. (For perspective, an Olympic time is just under 2min).  The next week she ran it in 5min 33 sec.  She was so excited that she got faster. Her comment was, "I guess track really does help!"

Race day came and it was time for the 800m. It was near the end of the meet, and was only supposed to be for ages 11 and up, so we had talked about how because it was older kids and boys and girls combined, some of the kids might be really far ahead of her. She didn't care.  She still wanted to do it.

The race started, and she was, as expected, at the end by quite a bit after the first lap.  As she neared the last corner for the race, I ran down to meet her and cheer her on.  For the last straightaway, I found myself cheering for her ("Go, Catherine, Go!"), encouraging her ("You're almost there, you can do it!"), coaching her ("This is where you sprint!"), to help her make it to the finish line. I think I was almost as excited as her when she crossed the finish line.  She was elated to hear them say her time was 4min 48 sec.  Even though she was probably almost a minute behind most of the other kids, she had gotten even faster. She had worked hard and accomplished something.

I know I looked silly running alongside the bleachers and track yelling for her, but I didn't care.  I was there to be her #1 cheerleader.  It even caused some of the other parents to cheer for her (which happens with the last kid in a race a lot of times). I thought "Wow. I'm that mom being loud and almost obnoxious." But, isn't that kind of my job? Isn't it my job as a mom, not just at a track meet but in life, to run alongside my child cheering and coaching her? Not running the race for her-I can't do that-but encouraging and helping?

I also thought about how God treats us.  Isn't he our biggest cheerleader/coach? Doesn't he run alongside us cheering for us and giving us help/hints on how to succeed? I imagine the joy he must feel as he sees us work hard at something and succeed on our own.  I'd like to be "that" parent.

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