Let’s see if i can paint this picture
If you’ve read many of our posts, you’ll know we are neck-deep in to volleyball. It’s volleyball all the time, indoor volleyball, private lessons, using the volleyball net at the local Lifetime fitness, and added this year: beach volleyball – which is where this adventure takes place.
This summer our daughter was selected to play with the “14-Select” Beach Volleyball Team. What does that mean? It means a lot of sand volleyball training, local tournaments all summer long, and 2 big trips out to California to play in tournaments in the deep sand and winds just feet away from the Ocean. The whole experience had it’s challenges, but it was a great experience which we’ll write more about some day…..
Fast forward to this past weekend. Currently she’s playing on the Freshman volleyball team at her high school, but….. there is also the opportunity to continue her beach volleyball training. There is one major change that’s happened between summer and now, and i’d be lying if i said it hasn’t created some anxiety in us all. She has had to move up from the 14 & under division to the 16 & under division. That means she won’t be training with all the great girls she made friends with in the 14u division, and we have to start all over. All over with the questions about who’s going to be at the training, who are the coaches, how long does it last, what the training sessions will be like, is it every Sunday, is it always at 7:00-9:00, and so forth. I’ll admit, however, this is been a bit of an easier transition: It’s the same coaches she worked with over the summer, there are a handful of girls from high school’s Junior Varsity and Varsity teams, there is an older girl who was part of the summer travel group, and there’s a Junior from her High School’s Varsity team who is an unbelievable person which she’s becoming close friends with. (More on that later) So, like i said, it’s been a bit of an easier transition.
How does all of this tie in to the “See you next weekend” title???
This past Sunday, she had a sand volleyball training session. Up at 6:00 to leave by 6:40, to get to the courts by 6:50. Yes, bright and early on a Sunday morning. Mom and I stayed to watch. I pounded away on my laptop to catch up on some work, and mom analyzed every single moment of the practice. Not for technique, or coaching advice, or any of that. It was “she looks uncomfortable”, “So and so gave her a high-5”, “we need to help her be more outgoing”, “that was a good serve”, “oh my god….. she initiated a high-5 with so and so”, “ouch, the ants are biting me!” We just worry so much about her being around good people. Good people build confidence in her. It’s amazing how quickly, and how deeply, a hater can damage her self-confidence. We are very lucky to be around these good people at sand volleyball. We see her becoming more and more comfortable. What’s so bad about waking up early on a Sunday morning to have the opportunity of watching your kid grow as a person?
The story continues, we’ll get to the “See you next weekend”, i promise.
After practice, she asked if we could go to Dutch Brothers. Such an annoying place because the lines to get coffee/smoothies/snacks is just ridiculous, but i said we would, so we will. As i’m pulling in, the drive-thru line is literally 20 cars deep, and the walk-up line is probably 10. Simple math tells me we should walk up to the carry out window, so i park and she and i get out to jump in line. As we’re getting closer to the line, i notice (as does she) a familiar face. Another girl from the sand volleyball session. That just ended, literally minutes before. An older girl, who she knows a little bit from the summer travel tournaments. Not a great friend, mind you, but not a stranger either. Anyway, as we’re walking up, and we notice this girl, i can see the discomfort in my daughter. Not because she doesn’t like this girl or anything, but because she does not know what to do. She does not know what to say if this girl says hi to her. She does not know if she should say hi 1st. I can tell you there is no way on this earth my daughter would say hi 1st, it is just not mentally or physically possible. It sounds crazy, but the anxiety in my daughter has to be rising as we get closer. The two girls notice each other, but frankly don’t really look at each other, so i have no idea what’s going to happen here. As it turns out, this other girl says “hi” 1st, then my daughter stops briefly to say hi back, then this girl spreads her arms open, and they give each other a hug. The tears well up in me a little bit, and we take our spot in line, 5 people or so behind her.
As we stand in line, i gently slip in a few questions to my daughter. It starts out simple, like “what are you going to order”, but then i ask “what do you think she is going to order”, “do you bet she gets a blended drink, or a coffee drink?”, basically i’m just making conversation, but also trying to recognize there’s a friend a few people in line from us. I then start asking about what we’re going to do when the other girl is done in line and walks past us to leave…… “Are you gonna say bye?”, of course i am my daughter replies. “What if she doesn’t say goodbye 1st”, i don’t know she replies. “Would you ask her what she got? Obviously you both like Dutch Brothers”, maybe she replies. “I think it’d be kinda cool if you told her that you’d see her next weekend”, at which time my daughter briefly looks up from her cell phone and just gives me a smirk to stop with the questions.
So, inevitably, the line moves along, and the other girl has her drinks and is ready to leave. She is walking towards us, kinda looking at the ground. Again, they both sense each other, but there’s a cloudy level of comfort. The two girls don’t make eye contact. The other girl starts to turn the corner to go towards her mom waiting in the car………. and that’s when i hear it……..
“Bye Nat, I’ll see you next weekend”
HOLY SHIT! SHE DID IT!!!! (sorry, i just had to pause my typing for 5 minutes while i let the tears run)
Nat turned around with a smile, and stopped. The two girls chatted with each other for a few moments. Nat asked, “did you make your high school indoor team?”, my daughter replied, “yes”. Then Nat asked “are you playing at the Indoor Club again this fall?”, my daughter replied, “yes, Are you too?”. There were only a few questions back and forth, and i tried not to hover and listen in on their conversation, but at the same time was so very proud that my daughter found the strength to overcome a situation she was uncomfortable in. They ended with a “see you next weekend”.
Back in the car, my daughter shared a bit of the story with mom, who was waiting in the car. I filled in more details, then mom and i used the opportunity to build on this experience, and help our daughter grow from this experience. Hopefully it gets just a little bit easier each time from now. The kicker though….. next weekend, who knows, she may not even acknowledge Nat at practice. Not because she doesn’t want to, believe me she does, but because she just can’t. She just can’t find the confidence to approach someone 1st, to initiate the conversation. But hey, who says it all has to change in one week? Just a little bit at a time. However small the steps need to be, i’m good with that, as long as she’s growing as a person, recognizing what makes her uncomfortable or anxious, and learning how to cope with those situations, i’m good with that. We’ll be here to help. This child of ours has changed the way i parent, changed the way i look at the world, changed the way i interact with people, and changed the person that i am. We could all be so lucky to have someone like her in our lives.