Eye of the Tiger, Juice of the Freckle

Are you ready to read this blog post?…I can’t hear you! ARE YOU READY TO READ THIS BLOG POST???? Well, this should pump you up:

So I have admittedly never watched this music video before now, and somehow the bad-assitude of that song diminished the moment I saw a gaggle of mullets led by Captain Beret struttin’ down what clearly looks like a perfectly safe, well-lit city street.

Bad 80’s music video aside, “Eye of the Tiger” is arguably one of the top go-to songs when it comes to getting oneself psyched up, especially in the arena of athletics. And it conveniently came on the radio as we were driving to my daughter’s soccer game. I could feel its magic working on me; I was definitely pumped to go spectate the hell out of that game! But Grace was just sitting in the backseat, reading Freckle Juice by Judy Blume.

Looking eager in the field during a T-ball game

Throughout her young sports career, Grace has not exactly been the picture of the enthusiastic athlete. There was the time in pre-K soccer when the other team scored and she marched off the field, declared she was done, and walked straight to the parking lot. (My husband and I were of course laughing at her and videotaping the whole thing.) And then there was the time in first grade during her school’s annual kickball tournament when she was so clearly not enthralled with the game that she let three kicks go right past her without missing a beat in her conversation with a friend. We don’t force her to play sports, mind you; she is always willing to sign up. It is only after we have paid the slightly ridiculous fee that she suddenly informs us that the answer of “yes, I would like to play soccer again this year,” actually means, “no, I did not really want to play soccer even though I said I did, so I will now just whine every time you tell me I have to go to practice or a game.”

Take note of the direction Grace is going, and where everyone else is going. Now guess where the ball is.

Thanks to my psychology minor (I totally just impressed you, didn’t I?), I know that part of her apathy stems from her belief that she just isn’t a good athlete…which stems from her fear of not being perfect at something the very first time she does it…which stems from the unfortunate strain of DNA I passed along to her. So when “Eye of the Tiger” began rockin’ our four-door sedan, I took this as a teachable moment of sorts. All Grace really needed was a little confidence to help her see all the fun that can be had playing a sport. Maybe what she needed was the eye of the tiger. It helped Rocky beat Mr. T, after all. And Grace only needed to beat a bunch of other second grade girls…fool.

Me: “Hey, G. You hear this song?”

Grace: “Uh huh.”

Me: “Well, this is probably the best song you could hear right before your soccer game. Lots of athletes listen to this song to get themselves pumped up to play. It’s got a good beat that gets you excited.”

Grace: (not even looking up from her book) That’s nice.

So much for the thrill of the fight. Apparently freckles are more thrilling.

But I bet you would never guess what happened next. Grace played the game of her life! The girl who normally does everything she can to avoid the ball was alert, aggressive, energetic…dare I say good? Maybe the “Eye of the Tiger” worked after all.

Or was it Freckle Juice? Was my daughter’s inner athlete awakened by a rousing piece of literature? I joked about the coach reciting excerpts from Blume’s books as his pre-game pep talk.

Freckle Juice by Judy BlumeThen again, Freckle Juice is about a second grade boy named Andrew who desperately wishes he had freckles like Nicky. Unhappy with the way he is, Andrew allows himself to get taken advantage of trying to get freckles only to find out in the end that Nicky actually hates his own freckles. And both boys are reassured by their teacher that they are each just the way they need to be: Andrew is perfect without freckles; Nicky is perfect with them.

Well, look at that. A story about confidence. Just what she needed. I have always believed that literature is amazing stuff.

So tell me. What story gets you pumped up?

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