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It Worked: Ignorance (Really) Is Bliss

I originally wrote the "Ignorance Is Bliss" blog when my daughter was beginning her water polo journey. And now that journey has ended. Last weekend my daughter played her final water polo game as a collegiate athlete. It is bittersweet to be at the end, knowing there will be no more games. It was a game she played with passion and heart until the very end. Her body has taken a beating from the years of training. She sacrificed many things along the way, but she gained more in return. She gained friendships she would not have had if she didn’t play club in high school an hour from home. The relationships she established in college with teammates and coaches are priceless. She learned about herself as a person, what boundaries she could push, and what goals she could achieve with the right amount of perseverance and drive even when times were tough. She entered college as a girl and is leaving a strong, confident woman. That is truly the most incredible gift these experiences gave her as they have shaped and guided her during these years.

Maybe someday she’ll decide to play Master’s water polo. I doubt she will ever be like me and choose just to swim. Where is the joy in looking at a black line on the bottom of the pool when you can be playing a much more strategic sport that allows you to swim and be physical at the same time? I get it. I like to think that my early words of wisdom were the catalyst for a fantastic career in the pool that allowed her to experience things she might not have otherwise had the opportunity to do.

I am grateful to this sport and the people who were instrumental in her journey. I am excited to see where she goes from here, charting her course, using the tools that water polo has given her to crush obstacles in her path and score in life. Now that her water polo days have officially ended, I am very much reminded of how it all began: with a simple sales pitch. Those words served us both well. Following is my original blog from those early days when we were just starting the water polo journey. They serve as a reminder that the journey ends way too soon.

Ignorance Is Bliss

Headstrong daughter doesn’t want to listen to me. She doesn’t care that I had years of experience in the sport. She thinks she knows better. Butting heads hurts. I am tired of fighting with her. But, being the brilliant strategist (manipulator) I am, I convinced her to try something new. My brilliance was evident in my word choice: “I know absolutely nothing about the sport, and promise not to learn anything about it.” The connection was immediate. Mom not knowing something is relatively unheard of, right? And in a water sport, my territory, even better. Water polo, it turned out, was the perfect combination of everything she loved: swimming, socializing, and taking her aggression out on unassuming rivals. As mothers, our intuition is to coddle, protect, and shelter our children from the unknown. In this case, I was hoping the unknown would be our salvation. My intuition told me that if I wanted my athletic daughter to find something she really wanted to do, I was going to have to take a back seat in the journey there. I was going to have to let her learn, grow, and develop without any input. Being the headstrong, stubborn, determined child she is, she was going to have to own it all. Sometimes as a parent, we have to recognize that our kids may actually succeed even more if we don’t become involved. Some kids respond just fine when a parent knows the sport well; others do not. My daughter needed something to own and call hers to bring out that hidden talent, drive, and desire to succeed. Nearly three years have lapsed since that fateful transition day from swim to water polo. She has definitely found her niche. While I know a little more about polo now, and my words about the importance of swimming are heeded, I make sure that she owns every part of her sport. If she laughs at me when I ask a question, I feel I have succeeded in staying ignorant. And, sometimes, ignorance really is bliss, especially when we’re talking about keeping the bond between mother and teenage daughter strong.

PS I still don’t know much about this sport. And it served me well to keep it that way.


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