family, Love

Walking a fine line

As a teacher there are many things that occupy my time.  My ex wife, the mother of my only daughter, is also a teacher.  Fortunately open house at our respective schools are on different nights.  Coincidentally, they are both on Thursday nights.  Tonight was hers, next Thursday mine.  Tonight what occupied my time was my daughter.

About six months ago my daughter, who is 12 years old, began a new interest in several sports who previously not at all interested.  To give a gauge on my daughter’s mentality, when she was becoming of the age where leagues were developing for common sports she had no interest in basketball, “I don’t know, I just don’t like it,” and didn’t want to play soccer because, “I don’t like to sweat.”  When I reminded her of not wanting to sweat she clearly didn’t recall making that statement.

My daughter has been taking ballet for 9 years.  For about the past 3 years my daughter has been playing volleyball.  Her strength has been serving; her focus, concentration on a system and repetition and her proficiency led to her being the “Player of the Year” for her summer camp for the 14 and under volleyball team.  Advancing her ability to excel built her mentality for competition.  This is where she has changed.  This is where I have changed my way of looking at her.

I have looked at her with pride for her entire life.  I have been excited to see how well she has been developing: healthy, brilliant, kind, friendly, sensitive and as cliche as it may be beautiful (inside and out).  I have been incredibly worried about her as I know the world is brutal and will not care about her positive attributes; at some point in time, I fear, she will be chewed up and spit out by the cruel world.  I have less fear seeing her growth, seeing her competitiveness, seeing her want to work, train and get better.  I have only gotten more proud.

Maybe the competition has tapped into her desire to play team sports.  Volleyball has an ability to be a team sport which has an individual factor, serving.  In this volleyball is similar to baseball, or softball (which she played for three years until she just didn’t enjoy the sport anymore).  Now, my daughter is excited to play soccer in gym class and has been interested in playing basketball.

Today I spent the afternoon with my daughter, and we played basketball for almost 2 hours into the dark.  My favorite sport growing up was basketball, it was sport I was best at and the sport I have had success in coaching.  I worked with my daughter on basketball drills.  My daughter is developing well, but she also is willing to quit and give up on an activity when she feels as though she is a failure and overwhelmed; this is where I walk a fine line.

As I know my daughter as well as I do, I am able to walk this fine line.  As I know my daughter as well as I do, I know when to stop pushing and how to encourage her.  Tonight, she grew and learned a good deal out of the basketball lesson.  As a teacher, as a father and as a person who strives to be as helpful as I can to anyone and everyone I attempt to walk this fine line with the relationships with people who I know.  I know I cannot help everyone in every way, but it is a fine line with which I need to walk, especially as a teacher.

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