Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Tortoise and the Hare

The Wonder Twins start seventh grade in the fall. This means that they are eligible for junior varsity sports for the first time. They don't automatically make the team anymore; they have to try out.

The twins couldn't be any more different--physically, emotionally, mentally--they have always been completely different personalities. We've always stressed that they shouldn't compare one to the other, but it is hard when you live in the same room as your primary competitor. Who walked first? Who talked first? Who had the first boyfriend? And so on and so forth. I mean, we live in a house where one daughter is always the Top Student in her class. It's hard not to compare yourself to that kid and come up a little wanting.

This enormous gulf fixed between the girls might be the most evident in any kind of physical challenge. Elise is solid. She's athletic. She's firm and strong. She's built like a goddess. She ought to be a pirate standing on deck shouting orders to her faithful followers or president of the sorority. She's a force of nature.

Elaina is tall and willowy. She's thin and lanky, built like a colt right out of the gate. She's clumsy. She's goofy. She's built like a supermodel. She's continually falling down while walking across flat surfaces. She's ethereal, fragile, and like the damsel in distress in a fairytale. You want to rescue her.

I knew in my heart that a position on the volleyball team probably wasn't happening for her, but that it was probable for her twin. So, when the roster was posted and we skimmed through it, just as expected, Elise was there as an alternate (this is a Big Whoop for a seventh grader); Elaina was not. Everyone held her breath for a second as we processed, staring at the screen in the pregnant silence.

Naynuh rocking the nerd fashion sense.
And Elaina finally said, "Well, that sucks."

We giggled awkwardly for a second, and then after a very long pause she added, "Mrs. Marilyn (coach) said that we could be involved in the team and support everyone in some way, and I want to do that. Can I apply to video tape the games or keep stats, Mom? I still want to go with everyone."

You know, I'm proud of Elise. She's smart and athletic, even her teeth came in straight and true, but she comes by those things without really having to apply herself. She's the hare in the Aesop fable. She's my daughter and that's enough to make me proud without her actually ever doing anything at all.

But Elaina? Elaina has to work a little bit harder for everything she achieves. And she does it with a smile and a good attitude. She's endured five years of orthodonture without a single temper tantrum (not saying that she hasn't cried and moaned some, but never has she refused or screamed or even pouted). She has never been Top Student or first in a race or first in anything, while her sister's side of the room is covered in awards. She knew realistically that she probably wouldn't make the team, but went and tried anyway. She hoped.

Elaina, Kaitlyn, Elise
Elaina, my tortoise, sort of sneaks up on you. No one has ever called her bossy or mean. She's funny and silly and laughs at herself daily. She wears nerd glasses as a fashion statement. She is just simply put, likable.

The girls got their weekly progress reports on Thursday, and Elaina was only a couple of points behind her sister in overall totals. She held up the grades, waived them at Elise and sang, "I'm comin' fo' ya, Sissy Poo!" I think that little taunting dancing song actually sums up what I'm trying to post here.

If I were giving advice to Elise it would be this: You'd better strap in and put the hammer down, because eventually, Elaina is going to smoke you just through hard work, good attitude, and Want To.

So, she didn't make the junior varsity volleyball team or make Top Student. Big Whoop. She's going to be tall and beautiful and unbearably thin, smart enough to be in the top third of her class, and she's able to laugh at herself, forgive people, take a joke, be friends with people two grades in either direction, and applies herself at everything like it's the Olympics. That, and she's a powerful Christian, able to empathize in a way that I only dream about. She's also going to be the greatest videographer the CCA volleyball team has ever had (perhaps the first one too, but still).

Eat your hearts out. And know that she's comin' fo' all y'all.


Emily B. said...

My beautiful "Laney"! I love her and all your babies! Makes a cousin so so proud!!

Emily B. said...

My beautiful "Laney"!! I love her and all your babies!