Daughter and I spend the car ride home from most cheer practices these days in silence. She folds into the passenger seat with a complaint about the coach yelling or missing teammates or exhaustion, and I ask a question or two designed to express concern but not outrage, interest but not doubt. She answers and then slumps against the window. By the time we hit the highway it’s crickets.
She’s struggling and wants to persevere. She’s enjoyed thrilling success with this before, and this is not that. She can’t see how it can ever be that again. Covid has decimated the ranks of athletes and coaches, and her gym was smaller than their competition to begin with. The coach and gym owner is young and impatient; so much feedback is about attitude and effort, so little about technique. It’s dispiriting to watch.
In the car’s silence I trust she is working it out, thinking and feeling her way through the present disappointment she’s experiencing every 2-3 days as the promised reward for all that effort appears more and more remote. I’m not asking any more questions, and I’m not offering advice. I’m paying attention to what she’s doing in the quiet and rooting for her without talking.