Monday, March 12, 2007

Soaring emotions

Saturday, my heart soared and broke--within minutes.

Our kids are involved in 4-H's Shooting Sports program. Both shoot archery. Over the past two weeks, we've been to two competitions, one at Hays, the other at Cimarron.

Both of my kids are good shots. Andy is an excellent shot, and my heart soared as he shot well, at both events. At Hays, he took 3rd place in his age division. And we don't know how he scored at Cimarron, as we left before final scores were posted. But, I'd venture to guess that he's in the top 3 again.

It's a pleasure to watch your child perform well, to excel at something that they enjoy. My heart soared watching him shoot so well.

Then it broke. This is Miss Kat's first year to compete. At Hays, she didn't do well, but the wind was howling from the North at speeds of 30 to 40 mph. The temperature was 32, the windchill was 0. It's difficult to shoot in that kind of condition. (Andy shot later in the day, when when the wind went down and the temperature went up.) But, she did it and was proud that she shot. I was proud of her too. We had higher expectations at Cimarron.

The weather was much nicer, but little Miss Kat was shooting with three 15 year old boys who were a foot taller, who had stronger bows and more experience, (and did I mention they were 15 year old boys?) She didn't shoot at the distance we assumed she would, as a beginner, instead, she shot at the same firing line at the 15 year old boys. She quickly became discouraged, dis heartened and even cried because she was so frustrated.

As a parent, what do you do? We comforted, we told her we were very proud of her (and we were.) We encouraged her. No, she didn't qualify for State this spring, but there's next fall. And, as her coach, I mentally made some decisions about how to help her succeed.

I decided that she, and any kid wanting to compete has to use a 20 lb. bow. Those 15 lb. bows just don't have the umph needed. I'm going to make sure we have the best arrows for our competitions. I'm going to try to have different shooting experiences, putting the younger kids with the older kids, I'm going to have them scoot back and shoot at greater distances.

I hate, absolutely hate, watching a kid be disappointed and discouraged when I know and they know they can do better. I hate feeling like I let my kids down, because I'm relatively new at this too. My learning curve is as great as theirs--and they won't even let me shoot.

As a Mom, I hate feeling so excited for one child, and so heartbroken for the other. Man, this parenting stuff is hard.

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