My Daughter’s Graced Life

Yesterday was a big day, but my wife and I hardly knew it. Not sure the young miss knew it either when she rolled out of bed. One of my daughter’s friends hooked her into an after-school activity several months ago. An extra hour after dismissal on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The task? To raise awareness on abused animals.

Huh; nice project, I thought, for a girl who has seen rescued animals in her home as long as she’s been in it.

Britt and friends visited the local animal shelter, and assembled information. And did mysterious stuff at one of the houses or other every so often. It seemed more like good times than any real extra-curricular task. But what do I know? Adolescent girls seem to be more about high-speed chatter and cackling than anything else.

As the winter months grew long, one of the partners in this project stopped doing much work. And as often as not, I would get a text about mid-afternoon, “Nobody here. No DI. Can u pick me up?”

Yesterday morning it was my surprise to find my daughter in a skirt for the first time since … well, long before Christmas. (could be age 12 … but I digress …) My wife was dropping her off to some DI morning at the middle school. 9:30 till 1pm. The young miss reported it might be over long before that.

My wife came home and told me the sorry tale. This was a big regional event. The parking lot at the school was jammed. Kids were carting in BIG displays and stuff in big bags. Some displays stretched across two tables. Most kids had matching t-shirts with team names and some hyper-organized-looking props. There were a lot of older teens–high school kids. Dozens of parents were cooling jets in the school cafeteria. My wife was “ordered” home; “I’ll text when I need a pick-up.”

Their faculty advisor was nowhere to be found. One of the middle school faculty was even surprised that the young miss was even there. My wife reported she sputtered something about, “Good to see you,” and told our daughter to get her paperwork ready.

“I felt so sorry for her,” my wife said when she got back home. Britt’s partner had shown up in a ballet costume with a pink bow in her hair. Their one poster board had a hand-drawn sign and four pictures from magazines taped to it. Partner #3 hadn’t even shown up yet.

My wife asked if we should take the young miss and her friend out for lunch to console them. Why award mediocrity, I thought. But I was troubled for my daughter: she takes embarrassment very hard. One partner AWOL and the other in a tutu. This was a train-wreck like the Moroney Missal waiting to unfold.

The hours passed. It turned out that the young miss and her intrepid team had to pass “challenges” and do interviews and things like that. (Number three finally showed up.) Then I started getting texts typed in caps. They won.

They won what?

They get to go to “Globals.”

Globals? What about state competition?

This was state.

(It was?!)

Next step is the Global Finals in Tennessee.

Girls winning. Screaming. Jumping. Asking if they heard right. More screaming. More jumping. Going outside. More screaming. More jumping.

Turns out they were competing in the category of outreach, and that they actually outperformed other teams in that section, and now are one of two Ames Middle School teams to have moved on to the Global Finals in Knoxville on 25-28 May. I wonder when the faculty advisor finds this out.

I surfed the web pages in detail last night. They intimated this is a Huge Deal for a lot of kids, and counseled (realistically) that it is rare for first-time DI competitors and younger students (ages 13-14) to win a state-level event. So try harder and come back next year, they advise.

I went to the parish with a heavy heart, thinking I was going to be investing in damage control for the rest of the weekend. Now I have to figure out how to get my daughter to Tennessee next month.

I feel deeply chastened by being completely and utterly out of the loop on this activity. I watched some of the DI presentations on internet video last night. I was amazed. My parents were totally out of the loop on my adolescent life, my college days, and afterward. I did not want to be that kind of parent. I wasn’t cut out for helicoptering, but I knew I was going to be in the know. Now I find I’ve been completely ignorant on this whole thing.

Anybody else out there with this kind of experience? Or with DI?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to My Daughter’s Graced Life

  1. Anne says:

    Actually my youngest (now 24)was involved with DI while in middle school. I remember attending the tournaments with my husband but not much else about it. The kids had fun. One thing I learned…Ignore requests to stay away from school events. They’re usually trying to be “cool” (at this age) but really do appreciate your support. Just try to stay in the background. Enjoy these times with your daughter!

  2. Sarah says:

    Hi there – A friend of mine forwarded this post to me – primarily because we are in a somewhat similar situation. I am the Team Manager (aka Coach) for my son’s elementary level DI team. This was our second year competing and we ended up with 1st place at state (which was VERY unexpected) and faced similar shock and surprise as we were faced with deciding whether to go to Tennessee, from Washington State, no less. Congratulations to your daughter. And don’t worry too much about being uninformed. DI is all about the kids taking charge, and coming up with their own ideas and solutions to the challenges – so as Team Manager I have to tell parents NOT to help. We have decided to just plunge in and go to Globals in Tennessee – if you daughter’s team goes I encourage you to go as well. Not all the team have t-shirts (ours doesn’t) and most everyone’s props look a bit rag-tag, as they should. But the creativity is so inspiring to watch – so if you go be sure to catch performances in addition to your daughter’s. Enjoy!

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