Saturday, November 13, 2010

Emma's page

Well here I sit.  I wasn't too sure I was going to post this morning.  I'm starting a bit late (and for the record, I am not writing these posts at 3 a.m. like the bottom of the post indicates.  I guess the blog time is a bit screwy) and we have a busy day ahead.  Emma's soccer team has made the state tournament and will play their first game this morning.  Well, ok, I guess that is it.  So we're not that busy today, just this morning.  I can't post what I've got going on tonight.... in case my brother Nick reads this, which I'm certain he doesn't.  And if he does, then I've got nothing going on tonight either.  Just sittin' at home with the family doing family stuff.  Fill ya in later!

Back to Emma... I'm not usually the type of mom that goes on and on about how wonderful my kids are.  Mostly because they are not. Or should I say, they don't always act "wonderfully".  They are pretty typical kids and siblings.  They fight, they are mouthy and they complain an awful lot about chores.  I don't gush a lot about their accomplishments (to them, yes I do) because frankly, I know people who have "perfect" children (or at least they believe they do) and I honestly get the urge to smack them sometimes.  I love hearing about awesome things my friends' kids have done, but all of my friends also have no trouble revealing their kids' imperfections as well.  In other words, they make me feel normal.  Like I'm not raising beasts.  Because sometimes I wonder.  Does this make sense?  However, this is my blog and I can write whatever I want and so before I write about the marathon, I'd like to tell you about Emma because she has a place in this blog.  Emma is my 9 year old daughter.  She is in the fourth grade.  From day one, Emma has been an attention seeker.  She was due on St. Patrick's Day, but arrived on Valentine's Day, 5 weeks early.  The joke in our house is that Emma didn't want be screwed out of a holiday birthday and if she had to be early, it still had to be a holiday.  This theory goes along with her personality.  She and I butt heads... A LOT.  When she was younger, I had been known to actually lock myself in the bathroom to keep from going overboard while spanking her.  For the record, I never did (go overboard that is).  She tested my patience immensely and to this day, still does, but more so with her mouth and attitude than by writing in Sharpie all over a new set of white bunk beds.  Emma is loud and full of life and when in a room full of people she knows, demands attention and exudes confidence.  And why shouldn't she be confident?  She is a beautiful girl (and this is not the mom in me talking... she is a gorgeous child).  She is incredibly witty and has a terrific sense of humor.  She is a master at imitation and provides many laughs during dinner.  Emma is also a terrific athlete.  She has a strong body, muscular and tall (not super tall, but on the taller side for her age) and seems to do quite well in whatever sport she plays, which at the moment, is three (whew... but I'm not saying I want her team to lose today, but oh my, the girl is maxed out right now).  Emma is also very smart.  Certain things, language and writing, come very easy to her.  Other subjects, such as math, do not.  But she is a perfectionist.  She wants straight A's.  And so she works her tail off, spending as much time on homework as it takes to have all the answers correct.  Too bad her mother can't tell her whether all the answers on her 4th grade math homework are correct!  Guess which subjects I did well in and which ones I did not?  At parent-teacher conferences the other night, her math teacher described Emma as "perfect".  John and I looked at each other with puzzled looks on our faces and said "HUH?", to which her teacher replied, "She is.  She is going to be something great someday.  I can just tell.  This girl has it all."  Well, gee, what parent wouldn't swell with pride at that report?  I mean, we had just come from one conference where the topic was our 6th grade son's handwriting.  It is so bad that his teachers are threatening not to grade his stuff if they can't read it.  Brilliant boy, sloppy as hell.  And we were about to go into our second grade son's conference not anticipating wonderful things to come out of that one, either. We were pleasantly surprised with that one, though.... the kid needs to focus more, that's all.... oh and work on his math facts (damn genetics!).

So what is the point of all this rambling about Emma?  Everyone who really knows Emma sees a bright future in whatever it is she chooses to do.  Everyone, that is, except Emma.  Yes, this funny, bright, athletic, beautiful girl struggles with self confidence.... and at times, that has really worked against her.  She is very competitive.  Second place has no place in Emma's world.  She ran track for 2 seasons and would crumble any ribbon that was not a blue ribbon, often times angrily crying when the race was over. It made me crazy that John was secretly proud of this "competitive" side of our daughter.  Competitiveness is a wonderful thing, but not when it reduces a child, who ran a terrific race to tears because she came in second.  There must be a balance.  She suffered from extreme anxiety at the beginning of each race.  So much so that she refused to run track a third season despite my pleading with her.... because she's fast.  I would say "Emma, you are such a good runner.  Why won't you run track?"  Her reason was simple.  "I hate the meets, mom.  I get so nervous before the race.  It makes me feel so bad."  Well there you go.  How do I argue.  How do I get mad at her when I know exactly how she feels?  I want so badly to make track a wonderful experience for her.  I want so much for her to love running as I picture my girl and me, side by side, running marathons some day.  She felt sick and paralyzed over the expectation she had placed on herself.... to get first place.  And in my case, to qualify for Boston.  She was moody and mean the mornings of her track meets (and I do dread waking her up for her state championship soccer game today... John doesn't make it easy by promising her a Dairy Queen blizzard for each goal she scores... small for 1 goal, medium for 2... you get the picture.  The girl has an insatiable sweet tooth).  I recall how I was the night before the 2009 Columbus Marathon... moody and mean.  Just plain sick over the expectation of a BQ.  But where does this come from?  Why is it so hard to trust the training... the time and hours spent running in preparation for this race?  What does everyone else see that is so damn hard for myself to see?  Or for my daughter to see in herself?  In my case, it makes (or made) Sarah CRAZY.  I swear, she'd like to drop kick me to the middle of next week whenever any kind of doubt crosses my lips.  I've learned to choose my words carefully around her when it comes to this subject.  She doesn't have these mind tricks when she races.  She sees it, she wants it, she gets it.  Plain and simple.  And guess what.  It works.  And I've worked VERY hard to make it work for me... that is for another entry.  For now, I've got to go get John some coffee (he's over there requesting that I heat in up in the microwave first for 30 seconds... YES SIR!) and wake up Emma so I can watch her kick some serious soccer butt today.

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