Sometimes, when I’m running around like a crazy person on the weekends trying to get costumes together for a dance competition or pack for an out-of-town volleyball tournament, I have to stop and ask myself, why?
After all, my parents didn’t do this. Activities were after school only and usually part of a school program. They were not all-encompassing events that involved parent participation and then some.
So, when I have these thoughts, one image comes to my mind. No, it’s not dreams of a college scholarship or fantasies of a child prodigy destined for great future success in sports or the arts. It is much simpler than that.
I think about the group hug.
In volleyball, in between each point, the six girls on the court come together in the middle and, ever-so briefly, put their arms around their teammates’ waists. They stand in this same posture when there is a timeout and they are listening to their coaches on the sidelines.
Not being very well-versed in sports, the first time I saw this, I have to admit, I got a little teary eyed. I still do because it reminds me this is why I want my daughters involved in group activities where they work together with others as a team.
The life lesson of supporting one another - of being there for each other through successes and failures - is not something you can learn from a book. It’s also not something your parents can teach you. You have to live it.
I was reminded of it again last weekend when my daughter and her dance company were taking part in a competition. After one dance, I noticed one of the girls crying because she felt like she had messed up the steps of the dance. I couldn’t hear exactly what was being said, but I could see other girls shaking their heads and putting their arms around her in comfort.
The next thing I knew, the entire team had encircled the crying dancer in a group hug. There was no discussion, no planning. They just instinctively knew she needed their love and support around her at that moment.
I interviewed a man in Durham this past week who learned a skill in prison and came out and created a successful business. So, what does this have to do with kids? Give me a second, I’ll get there, I promise.
I asked him what advice he would give to young people in order for them to stay on the right path. I thought his response was brilliant. He said: “Check your circle,” meaning who do you have around you? Are they positive influences? Are they supportive in the right ways?
I am happy to report that both of my daughters have found their circles, and that’s why we do it …
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.