So, my eldest wise one is a triple jumper.
We knew she could do a lot of stuff. Like walking on her hands, spinning a plate on a stick and forging her dad’s signature – but any talent in athletics was news to us. Also to her. But she can definitely triple jump. And even though her bottom always seems to fall back in the sand, her long-limbed, sharp-angled flying effort apparently clears over 6 metres.
She won for her school house. Then again representing her school. Then again for her district.
Pretty soon, there was a blue “first” ribbon blue-tacked on her door. With absolutely no idea of what she was doing, she began to get serious. This means google-ing “how to triple jump” in order to get some kind of technique. My lover spoke proudly of his time as a primary school triple jumper. More news to me. It was placed right up there with all his other could-have-worn-the-Australian-tracksuit stories.
That is, his wicket keeping, table tennis playing and downhill skiing potential.
If it weren’t robbed from him, in respective order, by – the U12 coach, the dodgy paddle and his sensitive knees.
We, as a family, discovered the world of you-tube. With it came Teddy Tamgho. The 6 foot 2, flamboyant french man who wowed the world with legs to his armpits. The first dude to jump further than 18 metres. We watched in awe on my lover’s phone screen. The importance of warming up the crowd by clapping your hands above your head was hotly debated. It sounded to me a little like social suicide, but I couldn’t help but caught up in the enthusiasm. We discussed the supportive evidence around “the winning effect”, how to keep your bum up, and carbo loading.
The front driveway became a sea of chalk lined targets.
But then last week, my eldest wise one came home huffing. She huffs when she wants to cry but is too proud. It should be in the Oxford dictionary under, “Angry scorpio tween.” She huffed to her room and put her head under her pillow.
Having no idea what had transpired at school and trying to be inclusive without being intrusive, I lay down next to her on the bed. To which I was told inter district triple jumping event was to be held on Monday 14th September. Which is all well and good.
Except that our family will be in Northern NSW on Monday 14th September.
On our annual family beach holiday.
In which it is hoped all members of said family will attend.
She said about our proposed time together, “I don’t want to go.”
I lay on the bed in my eldest wise one’s tears for a long time. I tried a few explanation angles.
-Rationality. The logistics of the long drive, the non-refundable deposit, the water temperature up North.
-Excitement. Surfing with dolphins, Marco-Polo in the spa, 3 local op-shops.
-Hope. An extra week off school, at least 6 beaches, 2 working televisions in the unit.
It didn’t work. She was inconsolable because she said I wouldn’t listen. I didn’t know how she felt and I didn’t understand what was important to her. Apparently, I was taking her life long dream to represent her school at anything away in a 7 seater Volvo up the coast.
So I said, “You can go on Monday 14th. I can help you make it happen. But you know it means you can’t come away with us to Yamba.”
She stopped crying and if for the first time, looked at me. Registering that I had heard her. Acknowledging that she had choice. Feeling empowered in her speech.
Because having a parent who listens, creates a child who believe she has a voice. A voice that deserves to be heard. And a voice that matters.
Think Throat openers, abdominal core and uijayi breath.
Sometimes, we can connect on a deeper understanding when we stop asking what’s the matter, and start asking “what matters to you”. To listen without really knowing what will arrive means to ultimately surrender. And in that, to be willing to receive all that has the potential to come. Karl Menniger said, “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we are listened to, it creates us, it makes us unfold and expand.” In listening to my eldest wise one, I placed my heart in the centre of us. Where in her decision, I could let it be torn apart. Or I could regain it’s whole.
She slept on her decision. Told me she needed to think about it with dreams.
The next morning at breakfast she said she didn’t want to make her district triple jump debut. That she wanted to come away with her family. That she wanted to go where it was warm.
That she wanted to be with me.
As I held her in a morning hug and smelled the geranium she wore in her hair, I loved her even more than I ever thought I could. Her rawness and her vulnerability. I strength and her courage. Her unfolding and her expanding.
I heard simply her voice.
So that she knows, as she begins to jump so long and far, that she will always matter to me.