Monday, January 17, 2011

Great Expectations

Some of my best old pals and me in the good ol' days
Photo Credit: Stacey Miller
All of my old high school chums know how I dreaded the end of every six weeks. A mediocre "B" on a report card would see my coveted phone ripped from the wall until straight As were once again achieved. The only time my mom willingly accepted a "B" was following a long period of daily trigonometry tutoring she certainly couldn't afford, but conceded to anyway, to keep me from failing. Oh, I shiver now at the thought of bringing home a "C". That meant no drinking beer in the woods, ahem, no movies for six weeks.

Last week, while reading Amy Chua's essay Why Chinese Mothers are Superior in the Wall Street Journal, a bell went off. I had a Chinese Mother.

My mom  and my sister Wendy, 1968
Of course I don't mean that literally. My mom was a blonde, green-eyed, Scotch-Irish beauty who lived life to the fullest. I've missed her everyday for over six years now. What I realized, after too many years, was that my mom EXPECTED me to bring home straight As because she knew that I could. Crap. She was right. Piano lessons and rigid music theory were a huge part of my life until my final pitiful guild performance of Starlight Waltz brought me to tears, and my mom accepted at last that I had not inherited her natural gift for tickling the ivories. In contrast to Mrs. Chua, however, I was always allowed sleepovers, and participation in school plays was cause for celebration.

This reflection on my childhood has caused me to examine my expectations as a parent. Not only do I expect straight As from my boys, I demand them. I expect and demand of them to be better than me in every possible way. Just like a good Chinese Mother, I hover over them after school until the work is done, and promptly send them outside to play, ride bikes, sprint or do plyos. A "B" on anything is never praised, but questioned. My boys know all too well that if they bring home a grade below a "B" that traveling for BMX is out.

Wyatt inherited not only my mom's blonde hair,
but many of her talents too.
The vast difference between my mom and me is that she was a single mother, which meant there was never anyone hovering over me to confirm that I was meeting expectations. It was up to me to motivate myself, or suffer the consequences.

Mrs. Chua states: "To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work... Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America."

Hmmm. I agree, with one exception-- children on their own never want to work. Of course they do! It's called self-motivation, and it must be taught.

One of William's better gates in Columbus.
Photo credit: J-Rods Photoshop
William has been plagued with gate trouble since his elbow dislocations, first in August (read Delusions in my Head), and again in October (read Déjà vu). He has worked and worked to try and regain his "snap", which he says he no longer feels. This past Saturday, we took the boys to ride the ABA track in Middleburg. Without a word from his dad or me, William did gates repeatedly. By the end of the night, improvement was obvious, and he was visibly pleased with himself. On the drive home, I asked him what he felt he had accomplished during practice. "My snap! I felt it. It's back!" This, he accomplished through his own self-motivation and will.

One thing I've learned is to expect more from my boys than they expect from themselves. Many times they've crossed the line in first, grinning from ear to ear, and said, I didn't think I could do it. Their dad and I look at each other knowingly and say without doubt, WE knew you could.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

NBL Christmas Classic: Winter dreams do come true

The excitement of Christmas quickly abated as we headed north early on December 26th to race the NBL Christmas Classic in Columbus, Ohio. Flurries began falling before we hit Atlanta, and the boys actually chose the scenery over movies and ipads. Just north of Knoxville, the weather turned into what any Floridian would certainly call a blizzard. In the midst of watching cars swerve off the road, and snow plows rumble by, my dad calls to ask if we've packed an emergency kit with flares and blankets. Um, no.

With darkness falling, and Vann growing more weary by the minute, the snow finally stopped, and the road cleared before we hit Ohio. "See?" I said. "Winter dreams do come true!" My nerdiness brought chuckles from the back seat.

The next day we watched the President's Cup, and realized that with a 300+ moto count, we were going to have to extend our stay. William met his new team mates, and was so excited to get to know them. He was thrilled with his new gear, and it was like Christmas all over.

Thanks to Big Daddy, we were the first ones in the convention center on day 1 of the Christmas Classic. After a brief practice, Wyatt took a long nap, knowing it would be several hours before his first moto. He never seemed to fully awaken, and was unable to clear semis in his first novice (excuse me-- challenger) race.

William's cruiser main (Photo credit:
William, however, was excited-- maybe too excited. In his first moto in 9 expert, he barely saved himself from flipping the gate, and did an interesting nose manual down the starting hill. He couldn't replicate it if he tried. Incredibly, he righted himself and raced on to take 3rd. After that, he had no trouble winning his remaining motos, and taking a 2nd in the main. There is definitely no shame in coming in second to DK rider Spencer Cole. That kid rides like greased lightening. William would love to come in ahead of him one day. The 9 cruiser class actually had semis, which is a first as far as I know. William perfected the day in cruiser, and felt confident for day 2.

Vann let the boys sleep in the next morning, knowing that they needed rest more than practice. Wyatt had a better look about him, and seemed ready to give it his all. He easily cleared motos taking a 3 and a 4. His semi brought tears to my eyes as I watched him qualify for his first challenger main with a 3rd place finish.
Winter dreams do come true.
William with team mates Coleman Habib and Samantha Brown

William had gate trouble again in his 9 expert main. He rounded the first turn in 6th, and turned on the jets. He crossed the line in a close third, not willing to accept anything less than a podium finish. Cruiser class was a repeat of day one, with William taking another perfect.

That night, the boys blew off steam running around with friends, while we relaxed at the bar. As exhausting as it was, we agreed it was the best race event ever. The best part was adding new friends to our bmx family!

The next morning, William, pale from fatigue, looked sadly out our hotel window. "Everything ok?" I asked. Quietly he said, "I don't want to go. I had forgotten how much I love to race." A moment later came the question... "Can we go to Indy?"
Maybe... IF...
Winter dreams do come true.

Felt 2011 (photo courtesy of Samantha Brown)

From our family to yours, have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!