Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jump Rope Team Try Outs

This week we're holding try outs for our jump rope team. I am not a huge fan of this process. The first two days we hold a clinic where we teach the hopeful jumpers the routine. Imagine 50 kids in an elementary school gym. Now imagine they all have jump ropes, are swinging them wildly over their heads, and have no idea what they are doing. Normally I come home with huge welts on my arms from being hit by multiple flying ropes. The last day we have the actual try-outs, which is almost worse than the chaotic days before. This is when we actually have to judge the kids, rate them, and decide who will be the lucky few to actually make the team. (We also have to listen to the same 30 seconds of an awful early 90's dance song over and over again.)

Teachers aren't really good at judging kids this way. We're great at looking at children, seeing the problems and figuring out how to fix them. We're excellent at knowing how to take a kid where they are and bring them up to where we want them to be. We're not programed to say, "Hey, you know what, you don't cut it. Find something else to do".

Last year during this process I had a terrible realization that I am going to be an awful stage mother. I always thought I would be a fully supportive and calm mother, reminding my children to try their best but it is ok if they do not make the team. I'm starting to realize this is not the case.

One little girl tried out for the team whom I had taught in first grade. I love this little girl. She came into my classroom from Indonesia a few weeks before Christmas in 2005, right before the Tsunami. She spoke no English and was so shy that the ESOL teacher gave her a flash card to show me when she needed to go to the bathroom or get water. After the Tsunami none of us could ask her if her family back in Indonesia was ok because of the language barrier. All we could do was hug her and hope she knew what we meant. As the year went on she learned English very quickly. My little boy with autism adopted her as his best friend and she sweetly mothered him along. She is one of the kids who always tries hard, always has a smile on her face, has a great attitude and clearly loves every minute of childhood. I was thrilled to see her trying out for the team.

Poor girl. Last year all I could do was watch her during try outs and coach her. Instead of being supportive I found myself taking her aside and reminding her to practice. She was actually very good but I realized I was critiquing her more than others because I wanted her to be perfect. YIKES!! Who did I become? Maybe it's great that I experienced this with someone who is not my child so I can back up, realize what I am doing and catch myself before I do serious psychological counseling.

Luckily the girl was a fantastic jumper and despite the pressure I put on her she still made the team.

This year is different, but still a chaotic experience. Now that we're finished with our clinics I'm dreading the cutting process tomorrow. I'll be so glad when this week is over. The team will be set, and the kids who didn't make the team will be over their first life-time 'trying out and failing' disappointment.

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