Thoughts on parenting from a former Olympic hopeful and current mom (who is also Playrific’s CEO)
When I was a child, sports and the Olympics were everything to me. I started competitive swimming when I was 10, going to the Y on 14th street in NYC many times a week and often reeking of chlorine which never seemed to disappear from my hair or skin.
My first big win was a national mail-in title for 10 year olds in breaststroke. I dreamed of Olympic gold. I went to swimming training camp in NJ and then upstate NY. When I was 12 I went to a school for gifted kids which had no swimming program. My coaches begged my parents to move to Florida or California so that I could start the progression to the Olympics.
My father is and was a dentist requiring licensing and building a practice to move, so the answer was no.
Hunter (my school) was at 45th and Lexington and the only sport they had was Tennis played at the courts in Grand Central Station at 6 AM. I didn’t hesitate, I was in. My goal was the US Open tennis championships. My father had competed in that when he was about 17. I did make it to Forest Hills repeatedly, but as a ball girl to greats like Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova and it was wonderful and inspiring.
I could go on with talk of Crew in college, and track and field when I’d used up eligibility in swimming in College, or bike racing in the UK in grad school. But what I wanted to talk about kids & sports & my daughter in particular.
I had hopes that she would fall in love with water and swimming and dream of gold so i started her at 6 months with lessons. I am not a parent that pushes and it seems my daughter is intellectually curious and competitive and sports for her is all about fun. So the trophies and medals and photos are in the attic and I follow my daughters interests hoping that by giving her lessons whenever she takes an interest, first in golf and now in tennis she will find a sport she loves that will last a lifetime, competitively or not She still takes swimming lessons in the summer at age 8 and will until completely safe in the water. Her passion is music. (She began begging for singing lessons from age 3 till age 5 when I gave in.)
So why am I telling you this? My daughter’s presence and smiles, jokes and laughs are gold enough for me. I wish all the Olympians and their families the best and wish for the children that whatever their passion, independent of their parents interests they get to follow their dreams and develop their passions.