Like many children, I loved playing outdoors, particularly in sports. Climbing trees was one of my passions, along with playing kickball and enjoying the exhilarating feeling of the wind in my hair as I ran. I lived my life as if there was nothing I couldn’t do. I loved challenges and thrived when faced with adversity.
I wanted to do everything my older brother could do, which was almost impossible considering I was a) half his size, b) almost four years younger than he and c) I was a girl, but that didn't stop me. After a year of begging and pleading with my dad he finally taught me how to ride a motorcycle—a red Honda z50—when I was 8 years old. I was not a girly girl by any stretch.
When I found out I was pregnant, my only fear was having a girl. Upon learning I was in fact going to give birth to a girl I confided to my friend, “I don’t even like the color pink!” (Fortunately, I had about five months in advance to mentally prepare for my baby girl’s arrival—along with her name, which I changed the moment I held her in my arms.)
During my pregnancy I often found myself wondering if my daughter and I would have the same interests. I also wondered if she’d use the right side of her brain more than the left or vice versa. I wondered which hand she would use more prominently and if she would love music and be inclined to play an instrument.
Would she be a natural athlete, like me? Would she be an avid reader, unlike me? More than anything, I hoped academics would come easily to her and I prayed my struggle with comprehension and focus would not also afflict her.
Overall, I was most excited to learn about her personality and what kind of person she'd grow to be.
Very early on, my daughter showed great signs of dexterity. She was coordinated and had great motor skills. As a preschooler she participated in more boy-type physical activities.
In first grade it came as no surprise when she took a liking to soccer. She was in her element running around a field kicking a ball but the speed with which she ran was incomparable to both boys and girls her ege. It was a sight to see, and still is.
In addition to her speed, what stands out is the effort she puts forth on that field. During every soccer game she goes after the ball with great tenacity, and more often than not she marks players much taller and stronger than she is. What she lacks in skill she makes up for in will power and courage.
No matter how many times she was knocked down over the Thanksgiving weekend in her first soccer tournament (five games over two days) she jumped up and continued to play, even as tears streamed down her face.
Her determination reminded me of me. Only, over the course of that weekend, I realized that I’ve experienced one too many falls and that, despite having a thicker skin, my childlike belief that anything is possible has stumbled.
At only 4 feet tall and barely 60 pounds, my daughter is a very petite fourth grader. But there is nothing small about her. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. Her compassion for others is almost tangible, her strength of character infectious and her heart pure. I don’t just love her, I genuinely like her. No one brings color to my world quite like my daughter.
She inspires me to live my life with the same enthusiasm I had as a kid and she reminds me that when I fall, it is OK to cry as long as I dust myself off and get back in the game.