I don't usually post about my children, but today I have to. This is one of the greatest days of my life and I wanted to put it down on the blog so that I will always have it.
My daughter became a soccer player today.
My son has had his share of sports successes. I remember so many of them and they all fill me with joy. I remember when he was announced on a Little Leauge field loudspeaker as he hit leadoff and started at second base in a championship playoff game. He was the starting pitcher in an all star game. He was always my closer when I managed, not because he threw hard, but because he had ice water in his veins and always kept his cool. I remember one game he saved with a 9 pitch, 3-up, 3-down last inning. I've worked a lot with him to help him be a success.
My daughter has never tasted such success. She has played soccer for years, but has always been one of the worst players on the team. She was the only one on her team this year that was still afraid of the ball. She was frequently out of position, gave up on plays that were right near her, and would frequently kick and miss easy balls right in front of her. My son and I never gave up on her and have worked with her every day we could. Today it all paid off.
I can't tell you why, but she played like a mad woman today. She played left defense the whole game and nothing got by her. When she couldn't kick the ball, she used her body to shove the other girl towards the sideline. No one got a clean shot on her goalie from any spot she could reach. She never gave up on any ball, no matter how far away and she never flinched once.
As she played, I watched her confidence grow, like a flower blooming right before my eyes. Looking back, it was the same thing I saw on the flight from Astrakahn to Moscow when I adopted her at 15 months old, years ago. A timid creature bloomed into a beautiful, self-confident girl.
There were so many glorious moments today. At one point, she shoved a girl from the other team into the dirt as she drove on our goal. It wasn't dirty, it was just good, hard soccer. As the game went on, she dogged the opposing forwards more and more. She even got warned by the ref for throwing elbows. I was practically in tears, it was so great to see.
Don't read this the wrong way. She's not a mean girl in any way. She's just never had success like this. She's never experienced the joy of being good at something and the admiring words and looks that come with the fruits of hard work.
Today my daughter learned that pleasure comes from success and success comes from hard work. She saw the payoff for all the hours my son and I have spent with her at the park working on her soccer skills. She'll never again go back to being the timid, unconfident little girl who isn't sure she belongs on the team. Now she knows she belongs there and she knows that she earned it.
Update: After re-reading this, it looks like she just became the team goon. Not quite. In yesterday's game, she kicked and/or controlled the ball more than she had in the previous one and a half seasons combined.
This is the start of something big and I spent a bit of time last night praying thanks to God for having lived to see it.