Now Is The Time

armback3

Photo by Jon Harper

I couldn’t help but notice that she chose to position herself at the back of the line. The spotlight isn’t for her. And yet when she is in it she shines. One by one they waited for their turn to hit. Some anxiously and some distractedly. Not her. She waited with one arm crossed behind her back.

After two shots they were to move to the next court. Some walked and some ran. She glided. As if that was what she had planned to do all along. When the baskets were empty they were to all help pick up. It was apparent that there are varying degrees of “picking up.” Her focus remained constant. Pick up as many balls as you can as quickly and efficiently as you can. That’s what she did.

Once they had gone through this routine several times they were allowed to get a water break. We shared a few moments before she was called back out onto the courts. She went when she was called, but not before giving me a quick love you.

Next they played a game that would result in someone eventually winning. It was her. The moment she won she looked over to me and silently mouthed I won. I gave a thumbs up and a big smile. She didn’t cheer or make a big deal about it. This is the same girl who upon winning six awards at her end-of-the-year-awards-ceremony, gave them all to her mother because she didn’t want the kids in her class that didn’t earn any to feel bad.

When her hour was up she came over to me feeling slightly dejected. I didn’t do that well, she said. I did my best to explain to her that she did fine. But I don’t think that I was convincing. This scene seemed all too familiar. Last week my daughter had been moping around the house with a sad expression for what seemed like hours. Actually, it was less than an hour, but it still went on longer than I thought it should.

At first she wouldn’t tell us why she was down. But then she finally shared with us what it was that was making her feel the way she did. She went on to say that all of her friends are good at a bunch of things and she is only good at one or two.

What?!

It bothered/bothers me that she feels this way. This is a girl who gets straight A’s, is athletic and beautiful (I am biased), and yet she still feels inadequate? Compared to whom? Or more importantly, compared to what? Is there some mythical standard that our girls are comparing themselves with?

I was able to watch my daughter play tennis this morning for what was almost an hour. She was magnificent and kind and athletic and beautiful. There are times when I truly wonder if she is an angel sent down from above. Whose sole purpose in life is to bring joy to those around her. She often comes home from school more excited about the achievements of those she has helped than her own achievements. Of which there are many.

And yet she still feels as if she doesn’t measure up?!

If my daughter, who is fortunate enough to live a good life and excel in many things, feels this way, then how must other, less fortunate girls feel? I shudder to think of the stress our girls put themselves through. Because they don’t … measure up?

It must stop now! We can no longer allow our girls to think poorly of themselves. We must continue to push the message that Angela Maiers has been spreading for years. Convincing kids and especially our girls, that they matter.

Today was a great day! I was able to watch my daughter play tennis and enjoy the pleasure of her company all day.  Much of the day was simply spent relaxing around the house. At one point when I came downstairs I noticed that my daughter had draped a small blanket over her shoulders as if it were a cape. When she saw me she asked if I wanted to wear the cape and I immediately accepted.  Ever so gently she made the transfer. And for a moment I thought that maybe I could fly and that maybe she is in fact an angel. I am unsure of the former, but becoming more and more certain of the latter.

Now is the time to convince our daughters that they are in fact amazing. They needn’t compare themselves with anyone and they have nothing to hide. I do not know why my daughter has a habit of holding her arm behind her back. Maybe it is just something she does without thinking. But today when I saw her do it I couldn’t help but wonder. Is she ready to show the world all that she is and all that she has. I will do everything in my power to help her believe that she is ready and that she is amazing. Because she is most certainly both. And a lot more!

“For a long time she flew, only when she thought no one else was watching.”

Brian Andreas

6 thoughts on “Now Is The Time

  1. Jon you have a wonderful young lady there who is fortunate to have two loving parents. She may not feel she is yet ready for the spotlight, but it isn’t for lack of character that the two of you have helped foster in her. Wishing you and your clan a fantastic summer.

  2. Your daughter is a very special girl with a great dad! It is so troublesome that little angels like her beat themselves up so much. I hope she reads this piece and sees herself through your eyes. I think she is meant for great things! Congratulations on having such a wonderful little girl!

  3. Jon,
    It is eery how similar your daughter and I behave. I wonder why that is? They both have fathers who are educators and who see them as beautiful (I am biased, too), intelligent, and caring. They have strong, beautiful, intelligent mothers ( Another bias we share, I’m sure) who sing their praises and encourage them to do their best. We both have a common goal- to help our daughters, and in fact all girls, realize their beauty, intelligence, and caring ways. It appears as if we both have some work to do.
    Jay

  4. Oh Jon. I can feel such immense love coming from your writing.

    I don’t think this feeling of inadequacy is just a girl thing. Honestly, I think every child goes through this at some point and needs quite a bit of reassurance. For many of them it seems to be a moment in time where perhaps someone has pointed out something that may not come so naturally or a child has decided to be mean at school. For others, it can be something they struggle with for quite a while.

    I guess the thing is that it doesn’t matter how much their parents tell them they’re wonderful, they want to hear it or at least know it from their peers. Somehow, parents opinion doesn’t really count and that could have something to do with the bias you mentioned.

    Your daughter has a beautiful, gentle and kind soul by the sounds of it and she’ll find her way. Not everyone feels the need to stand in the spotlight. Some prefer to do their thing without all the hoo ha.

    Lis 🙂

  5. Jon,

    Another beautiful, heartfelt post :). Your daughter is clearly as kind a person as you. There are so many times I want to tell my own daughter, now 16, that she is an angel, that she matters, that I wish she could see herself through my eyes…and yet right now, she cannot. So I make sure that I tell her what I see as often as possible, and that she hears that she matters, and that I love her, just like you do.

    And I know she will remember that when she needs it most!

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