Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Feelings Part 2 (aka Diving at Zones)

Corazon started diving a year ago.  In May she competed in her first regional meet and managed to qualify for zones. We had no idea she would qualify (not too common after less than a year of diving) and we really didn't want to go to "zones" in FL. This was completely inconvenient because it forced us to change our summer travel plans which greatly reduced our time in Boston. We couldn't take everyone to FL because of cost so we ended up changing our plans and not stopping to visit with family and friends on our drive to Boston so we could get there and then she and C. could turn around and go to FL. Traveling together has its challenges for them. They had gone to the Regional competition together and C. had caught Corazon stealing "treats" from her bag in the car when C. wasn't watching. She caught her again in the middle of the night in the hotel room. I was dreading what this trip would be for them especially because Corazon's anxiety is greater when I am not around. C. handles her very well but it still raises Corazon's anxiety.  Nonetheless, they were gone for 5 days while the rest of us were in Boston.

There are so many highlights from that trip. Corazon did well from a behavioral and diving perspective. She didn't have a "prayer" of making it to Nationals according to everyone involved in her diving but they agreed she needed the experience. The competition was rained on in high humidity for most of the 5 days.That meant they would start diving and then stop for several HOURS because of thunder, then start again and stop within 30 minutes for another hour or two, etc. etc.  This would normally be a set up for Corazon who doesn't transition well from "down" time to "on" time. However, she held it together nicely and needed minimal redirection. She was able to transition from playing card games with a teammate to diving and back and forth throughout the 3 days of competing. What made that most impressive was that she was being tested on so many fronts.

We know diving is a "white" sport and she doesn't have the "form" that many of her fellow divers have. We also have encountered racism in many different forms throughout our children's lives. The kids know about it and hear us talk about it. We try to turn the experiences in lessons for all of them but especially Corazon who stands out in many of the activities she participates in. She has encountered prejudice and ignorance because of her race and most of the time she lets it roll off her back or ignores it. This time she couldn't hide from it. Despite decent dives she noticed she was getting very low scores from several judges. The dive parents and even some other coaches noticed and commented to C. that they had noticed or didn't know what was going on. At one point one of the coaches for another team approached C. and gave her some insight--C. was getting lower marks because of her race and because her hair was in cornrows. (For anyone who knows what Black girls' hair can look like after being in a pool, you understand the need for cornrows.)  C. started paying attention and discovered that indeed Corazon and the other girls of color were in fact being scored lower by a couple of the judges.  It was blatant enough that even some folks who claimed not to "notice" race, noticed.  It got so bad at one point that Corazon and another one of the girls in her group were getting comments from other girls about how the judges must not "like" them.  While Corazon has encountered (and will continue to encounter) racism and prejudice before, this time she felt it. It hurt her more than angered her. She cried. She didn't cry while she was up on that diving board but she cried. She cried again when she told me over the phone. This may sound crazy but even though we don't want our child hurt, C. and I were thrilled that she was letting herself feel something so powerful and that she didn't let it stop her and get in her way. She didn't fall apart and get pissed off and lose it. She just felt it and the helplessness of the situation and she kept on trying her best through the tears.  For Corazon this was so HUGE. A painless life lesson but an amazing personal growth experience.

After all that, she even managed to eek out a qualifying spot for Nationals because some of the girls she was competing against had already qualified.  Being the "bad" parents that we are, we were less than thrilled because it meant cutting our trip short on the tail end too so we could be in Nashville over week earlier than we had projected.  C. and I had to laugh at the texts that went back and forth between us in those moments.

C:  She tied for 13th so no Nationals.
Me: Sorry for her but "yay" we get to enjoy some of our trip.
C: Yes! Yay! I mean so sad for her.
Me: Yes, but we need the break.
C: Wait a minute. One of the parents says one girl prequalified so she might be in. Waiting for word.
Me: WHAT??? No! I mean "yay." Maybe. Oh my, I am so conflicted.
C: Me too. How terrible.
Me: Terrible that she might go or terrible that we are such bad parents?
C: Both.
C: She's in!!!! Nationals! Get ready for Tennessee!
Me: (silence)
C: Hello?
Me: Oh my...Happy for her. After all she went through! Take a picture for me.
C: Will do.  ... Not our best parenting moment, huh?

No indeed. But we were so proud of her.

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