As I listened to her well-spoken interpretation, my mind took her words about a singular topic and created the same interpretation in different settings.
The family is a place where our children should feel comfortable enough to try new things. They should be able to make a mistake and not feel as if it is the end of the world. Children should be embraced for trying new things, not belittled and shamed.
When young children perform for the very first time and sing off-key, blow the lyrics or hit the wrong key on the piano in a recital, our job as community is to clap for them and acknowledge that in this community failing in action is not failure. he child has simply missed the mark temporarily.
Children should be allowed to try — even if it takes years and many attempts to achieve the ultimate goal. Family and community should be the child’s vocal safety net that prevents them from hitting the ground by speaking words of encouragement.
A few days after my meeting, I was at my daughter’s gymnastics meet.
My eyes smiled along with other moms and dads as our daughters moved from one event to the next. Words of encouragement from the audience let each one of our daughters know that a parent was in the audience watching and rooting for them to stick the landing. And even when they didn’t stick it, we cheered them on to the next event.
Children recognize the voice of their parent, and will move in the direction they are encouraged to move in.
One family from another gymnastics team — not from Tracy — caught my eye. The mom was irritated as she cleaned the baby’s hands; mom would not make eye contact with her husband. The two pre-teen daughters were slumped next to the dad, and the little girl in the stroller was saying hi to anyone who would engage her.
This family was there to see their oldest daughter compete.
I scanned over the gymnasium filled with girls and I saw her. She was easy to spot. The girls from this family all looked like their mom. While their gymnast warmed up, the parents ignored each other and ignored her. She was not as bouncy as her teammates and spent the majority of the time crying — and even though her coach was attentive, her parents were not.
She did not have the vocal assurance that her parents cared, because even though they were physically in the building, they had long since left emotionally. I could see that they were completely distanced from the girls next to them and the one who was competing. I wanted to reach out and give the gymnast a hug and let her know it was going to be all right — but was it?
There are so many memories that we have that are affected by the words we heard or did not hear.
As parents, we have to remember that what we say or don’t say to our children can have an impact on their lives forever.
Speak to uplift, empower and encourage and our children will in turn be uplifted, empowered and encouraged to try anything.
• Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mom. Her column appears every so often in the Tracy Press. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.