Sunday, March 05, 2006

in her element

The same face that was blank in class earlier is now rapt with attention. The same hand that could not be coaxed to rise as she stared blankly at the walls, lost in thought, is now the first to shoot up from her side, the springs in her legs propelling it even higher. The same spirit that hung as limp and lifeless from her body as her oversized uniform now is now pulsing again, threatening to leap from her muscular frame as she propels herself through space and time.

The gym resembles a three-ring circus gone awry—a dizzying array of bodies twisting and turning, flinging and flying, leaping and landing. My eyes bounce from one flip-flopping figure to the next, as I consider my daughter’s own flip-flopping act as of late. Alert and attentive. Distracted and spaced out. Engaged and animated. Detached and disconnected. For the time being, she is landing on her feet. But it is not enough to free me from worry…

Here, however, liberated from her prison of “sit stills” and “don’t moves,” is the child I recognize, whose every movement is accompanied by a bounce and every achievement celebrated with a wide-mouthed, toothless grin. This is the child I remember—my sparkling, spirited sprite. But there are still signs, even here. She flits back and forth between the various apparatuses—from bars to beam and back while the instructor tries to instruct her. She is redirected easily, however—all energy propelled into appropriate motion, for once.

I watch with relief as, like a toy wound too tight, she is finally released. It is a glorious sight as her spry, spring-sprongy legs unshackle her, if but momentarily, from the constraints of gravity and grade school, and she flies. Free. My daughter is finally free.

Willing her body to obey her will, she achieves that upon which she had set her sights and rings the bell to announce to the world her conquest. In this battle for control over her body, she has been the victor. Her eyes search for mine in the bleachers, checking to be sure I have noticed. I have, indeed.

All my fears for her—unfounded here. My daughter is, at long last, in her element.


Beth said...


You have such a beautiful understanding way of writing about your girl. God has created her to be something so special, so big (it seems she couldn't live a "small" life from everything you say:D)

I will pray that you all find the right balance, that she will be "in her element" in more and more environments.

Cynthia said...

"spring-sprongy legs"...indeed she is in her element!

lorie said...

Thank you for both the compliment and the prayer, Beth. Now I just need to get her to understand that the living room couch IS NOT her element!