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Dad Confession: I Wish My Daughter Would Pick a Sport We Can Play Together

gymnasticsEach morning as I run through my workout routine at the local gym, I watch as a local kid who can’t be more than 14 years old walks into the gym with his dad. Father and son look alike and are both about the same height. The kid is about as thick as a toothpick, but he already towers over me in height. While decked out in school gear from head to toe, the kid puts down his back pack as his dad, dressed in a t-shirt and sweats, pulls out a basketball from a gym bag and they get to work. The son starts on one end of the key as he takes shots at the basket. Dad calmly rebounds the basketball and tosses it to his son over and over and over again. Their routine is nearly the same each day, except the son practices different styles of shots at different spots on the court. All the while the father gives his son little pointers here and there, but for the most part the father just rebounds and passes the ball to his son. The two don’t argue, and the son never looks to be annoyed with his father.

I didn’t have those types of moments with my dad when I was a kid. My dad and I played basketball out in the driveway pretty much every day the weather allowed, but our basketball games were about having fun together. Those games created memories that I cherish, but they didn’t do much to help me become a better basketball player. Part of me regrets that my dad didn’t take the time to stand there and rebound the basketball for me as I watch this other dad do for his son each morning. To be fair to my dad, however, there is an obvious difference between me and the kid I see every day at the gym. I topped out at 5 feet 10 1/2 inches — don’t forget the half, it puts me above average height and my wife is attracted to tall — whereas this kid looks like he could top out at 6 feet 10 inches. Also, my dad helped me develop other talents so it wouldn’t be fair for me to imply that my dad wasn’t interested in developing my talents, because he was, but watching that father and son practicing gives me a feeling of regret for whatever reason.

And that brings me to Addie.

After several years of trying to convince Addie to put forth more effort in gymnastics or she wouldn’t have the chance to make a gymnastics team, Addie was finally invited onto the gymnastics team at her gym. Over the past year, Addie has surprisingly excelled at gymnastics. She is now doing flips and cartwheels and vaults and bars and balance beams and all kinds of things that are very impressive, and the things she can do all kind of blow my mind a little. I watched Addie workout on a balance beam a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. The things they were having her do while on that balance beam were impressive, and the kid never lost her balance. I’m an overly-confident guy when it comes to what I think I can and can’t do physically, but no part of me thought I could do what that kid was doing on the balance beam — not without suffering some life changing injury at some point in the process.

Addie celebrated her invitation onto the gymnastics team by declaring she was no longer interested in doing gymnastics. She wants to continue doing gymnastics, just not at the pace that team requires. Basically, the kid is ready to move on to another sport.

Casey and I have thought about different sports Addie could try, and we would like to have her in some sport that would allow her to maintain the strength gymnastics has given her. As we look at the different sports available, I keep thinking of that father and son in the mornings at the gym. I want those moments with Addie and eventually with Vivi. I want Addie to participate in some sport that will allow me to be much more involved than I have been with gymnastics. I want to be able to give her little pointers here and there and to just be there as her assistant as she practices. When she’s grown and gone with kids of her own, I want her to be able to look back at her times as a kid and cherish those times with me just as I cherished my times with my dad.

Those opportunities haven’t been available to me as Addie has participated in gymnastics. What am I going to be able to teach her about gymnastics? That one never grows out of the desire to spin on the bars?

Unfortunately, most of the sports I played as a kid, meaning the sports I actually know anything about, Addie isn’t interested in. She would make a fantastic soccer player, but she has no desire. Basketball? Nope. Football? The kid rolls her eyes when a football game pops up on the TV. Softball? Maybe someday but not right now. That doesn’t leave many options. The only sport left is track or marathon-ing, but the chances of Addie picking a sport that involves running for long distances for long periods of time for really no purpose or in circles or straights lines as quickly as possible seems pretty small, but that hasn’t stopped me from pushing her in that direction. I don’t have much time left with this kid before she’s grown and off to college, so I’m willing to take the risk of doing a little manipulating behind the scenes so I can be more involved in her life.

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