If you've ever set a challenging goal, no doubt you've been faced with answering the question, "How much do you want it?" Sometimes we determine that the goal just isn't worth the sacrifice and other times we buckle down and "get 'er done". It's one thing to grapple with this within yourself and it's a whole other experience to see your kids deal with it. Our oldest daughter faces the question almost daily as she rises early for warm-ups, workouts, practice and skating lessons. I've watched her cry over elements that seemed to "take forever" (her words) to land. Every time I would say, "Well, how much do you want it?" or "Will the end result be worth the work?" Well, today a line was drawn in the sand that forced this question in a big way.
Somewhere along the line her occassional habit of having her eyes and chin down morphed into something she does quite a bit. I (and her coaches) began to feel like a broken record... "Eyes up! Head up!" It's probably become more noticeable since some dancers started skating during her normal freestyle ice. She's clearly intimidated by their size and speed. Of course, it doesn't help that they've almost run her over a few times. Whatever the reason, today I decided something needed to be done. I try not to interrupt her lessons but the head down thing was on my last nerve so I shouted, "Head up!" She didn't raise it. In fact, this child who is normally quite sweet and respectful ignored the next two times I shouted it as well. Oh yes, every mother reading this can probably relate to the feelings this stirred within me. I tried to excuse her in my mind, "oh, she's just having an off day, she doesn't normally behave this way" and "maybe she didn't hear me." For some reason, I just could not let it go though. Her lesson ended and as she skated away I told her to get her head up and was met with pursed lips. There it was, the expression that set off the chain of events that would follow. I followed her coach to the lobby where I borrowed a neck brace from her. Yes, she keeps a neck brace there for this very thing. I marched back out to the ice with that thing in hand. Panic registered on her face when she saw it. She shook her head at me, at first it was a defiant "I am NOT wearing that" but as she skated closer and saw the look on my face, that changed to "please don't make me". It was too late for a mercy plea in my mind. She was wearing it... period.
I strapped it around her neck, she pursed her lips and just stood there on the ice. I told her to go skate and to "keep her head up". I really thought she would rise to the occassion. I really did. I thought she'd see that I was trying to help. She started crying and half-heartedly moved around the ice. She even kicked the ice with her toe pick in protest. This of course, was not helping her case at all. Now, I should point out that there was only ONE other girl on the ice and there was no worry that she would make fun of my daughter. So, it isn't like I set out to embarass her in front of a crowd. She was mad. When we got in the car she changed her attitude but it was too little too late. I was mad now.
After talking to my husband, we decided that she would have three weeks to break the habit or she would lose the private lessons. She was a little shocked when I told her the news but she knows we mean it. Taking away ice time... that would get some reaction. Taking away lessons... OH MY GOODNESS!! This decision wasn't just about getting her to break the habit, it was to remind her where the funding for the sport she loves actually comes from (read: don't give your momma attitude). This may seem like an overreaction to a minor thing but this isn't minor. She has set goals and she will not acheive them by keeping her head down on the ice. And so, I asked her "how much do you want it?"
Only God knows whether she'll break the habit or not; However, I'm happy to report that after some time alone in her room she emerged with verses to help her keep a positive attitude during the process. We also registered for a competition that she really wants to skate with the stipulation that if she doesn't get to do it she will pay us back the fee. I believe the Lord can help her overcome this but what's better is that she believes it too.