Sunday, December 11, 2016

My awesome daughter

Disclosure: This is a biased account by a father about his awesome daughter.

Yesterday I missed seeing Jazzy’s annual gymnastic display. My alarm woke me up in time, but I arose in a fluey fogginess and I just couldn’t do it. I could feel that sense that if I stayed awake and forced myself through, I’d end up really sick and completely out of action for days. I knew how much it would mean to her for me to be there, but I just couldn’t. I collapsed back in the bed and slept deeply for another two hours. Disappointing all round. What can I say.

I did however make it to the afternoon session. I missed seeing the routine that she’d spent the last few months working on, but I did see something else. Quite a lot in fact about the amazing young woman that I have the privilege of calling my daughter.

Last January, Jazzy broke her arm. A piece of her elbow broke clean off, floating nearly a centimetre from where it was meant to be, like a little island separated out in the sea from the mainland. This was compounded by it not actually being diagnosed as broken for a good three months or so after the fact (a whole other story – thanks Warrandyte physio!). An operation ensued, followed by a long and slow rehabilitation. She has been unable to put any weight on it for almost a year now. Quite a significant impediment for somebody whose favourite time is spent swinging on gymnastics bars and flipping across the floor. Like many parents, I’m overly proud of my children. I love their successes. Parents tend to feel that their kids’ successes are in some way also theirs. I share this trait with those other parents. But my pride in Jazzy during this year, has stemmed not so much from her success, but from her fight in the face of adversity. Her persistence. Dedication. Courage. Without being able to use her arms at all, she has continued training twice a week for the entire year. For months she was able to do only repetitive leg strengthening work, while watching the other girls in her group flipping around all over the place. While this may be "only sport" and is not as significant as adversities that many others are experiencing, it showed a steely reserve inside that will stand her well when life throws difficulties her way. She had to forego the competitive part of the sport for the year, missing out on the two competition days, but going along in any case to support her team wholeheartedly. Generosity of spirit. Part of a team. Yesterday’s display was a culmination in a year of effort to get herself back in action. All the more disappointing to have missed it.

In the afternoon session that I did make it to, Jazzy’s stuff was all over. At least, she felt it was. But that’s not how it looked to me. There she was, leading the displays of other kids as one of the club coaches. Out the front, abounding in confidence, running the show. This year she’s become a fully qualified gymnastics coach and has been working on up to five days a week teaching kids of varying levels to do amazing things with their bodies. Helping their techniques and confidence to try and perform to their maximum abilities, while having fun at the same time. She’s become totally comfortable in her role as a teacher of young children, running classes, designing routines and also taking on the task of running gymnastics parties at the centre for the really little kids. Dedication to her craft.

Between the sessions yesterday, I saw what to me was the most telling of all. Jazzy kicking back jovially with the other coaches and the gym owners. Sharing jokes and conversation. A sixteen year old comfortable as herself in the company of adults with whom she has created her own relationships. Relationships that are visibly built on mutual respect. No longer a child. Clearly one of them. The people at her gymnastics club love her. They see in her those qualities that I do. They too recognise the enormous amount of dedication and effort that she puts in.

It’s quite amazing as a parent to see the developmental leaps that your offspring make as they forge their ways through life. From learning to talk. Learning to walk. Riding a bike. Finding themselves in some way or other and discovering what they like to do. We want the best for them. We know that stuff will go wrong from time to time, but we hope that on balance, things will mostly be bright. Somehow on turning sixteen this year, some kind of super-turbo overdrive switch seems to have been flicked for Jazzy. While acknowledging my undoubted bias, I feel that right now my daughter has awesomosity oozing out of every pore.