Last weekend, I took Maddie to a classmate’s 6th birthday party at one of those indoor playgrounds where they make the children get active and compete with each other in order to celebrate another year of life. We were late, but she took the blue mesh tank top handed her, kicked off her shoes, and tried to join in the games.
The first one was a relay. But when everyone else ran to get through the course quickly, she went through very slowly and deliberately, as if precision trumped speed: the exact opposite of the objective at the time.
Then they played something resembling volleyball with a bunch of balloon-looking spheres.
But instead of knocking the spheres over the net, she started cleaning up the errant ones.
And when the adult leader declared that it was time for SOCCER! to cheers from all but one in the gallery, she watched from the sideline.
I started texting Pretty Bride:
Me: We have got to get Maddie in some kind of sport or something. She doesn’t know what to do with balls!
Her: I thought that was what you wanted…
Me: I don’t want her to be stuck on the path toward becoming “that quiet artsy chick!”
But then, instead of standing to herself, she found the smallest child there–one who was barely able to walk unassisted–and started trying to help her play the different games. She even helped her up when the child fell a few times, holding her up a little longer than what was necessary, to comfort her with a hug. Maddie even sat with her when they had pizza.
So, before we left, I asked her about her experience.
Me: So, did you have fun?
Her: Sure! And there was one girl who was 2, like Owen used to be when he was 2, and I helped her, like I help Owen!
Maybe this little nonathletic creature who draws and paints and nurtures her younger siblings is going to be okay after all. Who needs high fives, roaring crowds, and athletic scholarships anyway?