A few days ago, my daughter competed in a swim meet where she placed first in the freestyle and the freestyle relay and second in the butterfly for her age group. At the end of the meet, when she had found out all her placements in the races, she couldn’t stop smiling. She had worked really hard all year, having not done too well last summer, training to improve her strokes, and now she saw all that work pay off. I was so proud of her I couldn’t stop smiling either.
We often equate pride with egotism and elitism, but this is a different kind of pride. My pride in my daughter has nothing to do with me at all. It is the pride of a parent seeing his child grow up a little in a good way — understanding that hard work leads to good things. It has nothing to do with my genes — my daughter was adopted — and nothing to do with my coaching her — I know very little about competitive swimming. It was all her. She’s the one who has become interested and dedicated to swimming. My wife and I just follow her lead with it. We have encouraged her to get involved in SOMETHING athletic, but never specified what it had to be. Once she got interested in swimming, we saw how good it was for her in so many ways, we told her she had to keep doing it in some way, but we didn’t care if she raced or not. She chose to race.
This parental pride is part of the love of a child. It just feels great when your kid reaches a goal that she set out to achieve. It’s not even living vicariously through her. I don’t revel in her winning because I never won anything when I was her age. I did win stuff, and I was never into swimming. I guess if you are a parent, you understand, and, if you aren’t, I can’t explain it to you.
She has another meet tomorrow against the toughest team in the league, and I can’t wait to see how she rises to the challenge. Sure I want her to win, and I’ll give her the pep talks and cheer her on and rush to find out her times when each race ends, but as long as she feels she did her best that day, that’s all that really MATTERS. Not a win, not even a place, but that she is truly satisfied with her own performance is what makes me proud.
And, yes, the title is a reference to a U2 song, but the connection stops there.