I have been meaning to post this for at least a couple of days, but things have been busy. I love being in the thick of things. If a rolling stone gathers no moss, then I’ll be moss-free into old age.
I am constantly amazed at the strength of my children.
I got a chance on Saturday morning to watch the private gymnastic lessons my kids are taking with a guy named Pete. Pete is teaching them to perform standing back handsprings. The fact that they have that much control over their little bodies is impressive unto itself, but to sit for that hour and watch them try – again and again and again to perform this trick – really blew me away.
I filmed some of it. We’d re-watch the tape, analyze where the problem was (or where we thought the problem was) and get back to the mat. Gabriel at some point hurt his ankle. He must have landed on it wrong. When I was his age, I would have whined, and crawled off into the corner – done for the day. He stopped every so often to “shake it off” and take breaks, but he kept going back at it. He was determined to get this right. When they get a little better, I’ll post some videos of their efforts. I wouldn’t want to embarrass them at this early stage. If you could see the determination and focus on Olivia’s face you’d think her much older than her 9 years.
From gymnastics, we dashed to Orono, where we had signed the kids up to take part in the area’s first Sibshop. For the uninitiated, a Sibshop is a play-based workshop for the siblings of kids with special needs, usually autism. It’s a safe place to go and meet other kids who are in the same situation you are. The hopes is that they’ll realize that they’re not alone, make a few friends, and gain access to a network of connections. They were nervous. Unlike Beth or I, they’d not been to the training, and didn’t really know what to expect. Beth and I knew the facilitators, but the kids didn’t know anyone.
Gabe sort of slowly walked in and hung up his coat, and Olivia absentmindedly turned a few cartwheels in the gymnasium where it was being held. She wasn’t showing off; this was self-soothing behavior. On the way down, Liv had asked to borrow my cell phone. She texted Beth that she was scared and wasn’t sure she wanted to go. She didn’t want Gabe to know she was afraid, and was too embarrassed to discuss it in front of me. Beth reassured her, and they did great.
We found out later that they were respectful, participated in the games and discussions, and were all around model sibs. I was so proud of the strength they had demonstrated. Courage isn’t not being afraid, it’s going forward when you are afraid.
From the Sibshop, we grabbed a bite to eat and made it to the late matinee of Frozen. This soon-to-be Disney classic is a sister story, which is quite complicated. It is loosely based on Andersen’s The Snow Queen. Of course, the queen gets into trouble, and it seems (as it always does) that only True Love’s kiss will saver her. There are a couple of Prince Charming types, but in the end, it’s the loving sacrificial move of her sister that saves the day, and the kingdom.
The women in this story were self-reliant, smart, inventive, and able to save themselves without needing to rely on a man. I loved it. We weren’t surprised to find out during our at-home research later Saturday night that this was the first Disney film directed by a woman. I was thrilled my kids got to see such strength of character on screen. It was full of important messages, even if they weren’t fully understood at 7, 9, and 11.
There’s more to talk about when discussing strength. I’ve been at a youth leadership symposium for the last two days, and there has been tragedy in our small town, but those topics will save for another time. I’ll leave you with some thoughts: