The day was going poorly. I had lost my patience and my husband was gone all day. I hadn’t spent any time with anyone other than the kids and I had just had it. Every single thing they did drove me crazy. To top it off, the kids hadn’t napped like they had done almost every other day of the summer so they were exhausted and ornery.
It was my daughter’s first day at a new gym for gymnastics. We were in the car driving home from my daughter’s gymnastics class and I was complimenting her on how well she did.
“I’m good at everything,” she said.
“No, you’re not,” I quickly replied.
“Yes I am.” She said it with such confidence and there was no way she was going to win this one.
“Listen, you can’t tell me you’re good at everything. Just a couple months ago you sat on the sidelines of the soccer field crying at the idea that I, as your coach, was going to make you at least stand on the field during the game. And then if you ever stood on the field, that’s all you’d do. And even then you were crying. Don’t tell me you’re good at everything. You’re not. And you’re especially not good at soccer. I’m sorry but that’s just how it is.” I had won that one for sure.
“I’m good at soccer,” she said with a huge smile.
“What are you talking about? You don’t even like soccer.”
“Yes I do.”
“No, you don’t. And you’re not that good at it. And that’s okay! Your brother is good at soccer. You are not good at soccer. I’m good at tennis. You’re good at dance and gymnastics, neither of which I’m good at. And that’s okay!”
“I’m good at soccer.”
“For the love, child. You may enjoy it because your brother plays it but that’s up to you. I don’t think you enjoy it as much as he does but I do know you enjoy singing, dancing, and gymnastics. God made us all different. What if we all liked soccer and were good at it?”
“It would be awesome.”
“No, it wouldn’t. God made us to like different things. That’s what makes the world work. We all have different talents and abilities and that’s okay. We’re not all good at everything. Some people may be but they’re unique, just like you. I think you have a gift at gymnastics. I watch you and I get chills because you’re just that good. You do something and if your coach corrects you, you immediately fix it and are quickly a better gymnast. You work hard at it. You practice in the house, outside, and at other people’s homes and businesses. You seem to love it and I love watching you love it. It’s important that we all find at least one thing that we love more than anything else and it’s up to you but I kind of feel gymnastics is that for you. And it’s a good thing.”
Then we talked about working hard. I explained how just like her dad who works very hard to earn money so we can have a nice life, she needs to work hard. Life doesn’t just give you things because you’re cute and you say please. If there’s something in life she wants, she has to work at it with consistent practicing. On top of that, she needs to recognize what she is good at, what she loves, and focus on it. She can’t just give up because it’s hard and she can’t just immediately be good at it (I used the example of how she cried for almost 30 minutes yesterday because she couldn’t play Old MacDonald Had A Farm on the piano the first time she had seen the music). If she really wants to be able to play the piano and sing at the same time, she’ll have to put in the work.
Basically she was silent after this … which never happens. Silence happens to her when she falls asleep. I didn’t know if I had made her feel bad, if she was crying on the inside, or if I had finally won and she was shocked. All I knew was that my monolog had gone well and I made a good point.
When we got home, she quickly did the rest of her chores so she could then do extra chores to earn money and she sat down at the piano (without me asking) and played the Old MacDonald song until she had it down. Least to say, I was astonished.
Since then, I’ve seen a huge change in her. She’s working hard. She’s enjoying what she’s doing. She just seems happier with things and doesn’t get so stressed out about excelling at everything.
It may have been a rough talk for a 5-year old, but at least for now, it has all sunk in and she’s doing well at what she likes to do and is worrying less about what everyone else likes to do. And in my book, that’s perfect.