Thursday, June 13, 2013

Eli 11.10 Rules The World

When you're a kid, if you're lucky, you go through a phase where everything is right. Like a boss, as Eli 11.10 would say, and right now, he's a boss.

At his school's athletic awards ceremony, he was called up to be recognized. Five times. No other boy in his grade was recognized more than once.

The next week, he played the dragon Mushu in Mulan.

I hadn't seen any of his rehearsals, and I expected something decent. When he was younger, he would be in little plays and would rush through his lines, even though he never forgot any of them. So I expected a slightly better version of that.

Instead, I saw a kid who knew how to play a character. He was funny, he had swagger, he was insecure--he was Mushu, in short, and he was truly funny. There were three kids in the musical who clearly stood out, and he was one of them.

This wasn't a pick-up production. He rehearsed 15+ hours a week for the last few weeks, and the set would have looked terrific for a high school production, let alone sixth graders. It was a big deal at his school, but instead of being nervous, he went out there like he did it every day.

Pressure. It's what's for breakfast.

When school let out for the summer (forever), Gloria decided to have "Austin Adventure Week" with him, and they did all kinds of fun things. First, they went to iFly, which is an indoor skydiving place. Here's a picture:

There are no cables in that chamber--he's free flying.

Then, on Friday, we went ziplining. Lake Travis Zipline Adventures has five ziplines, and three of them are over 1,500 feet long. So you zipline and hike in-between, and it's fantastic. Here's Eli going down one of the smaller lines:

The highlight is a 2,700 foot line at the end of the trip. It's a double line, so people actually race. Here's Eli and I on our way down, and at one point, we were going nearly 60 MPH:

If you want to know where that line ends, it's all the way over the ravine, then up the other side to that small wooden structure (you can see it cut into the hill). It's a long, fun ride.

They also went to Fiesta, Texas (I stayed behind to work on GS) and rode all the roller coasters. This was a little out of Gloria's comfort zone, but she did great. The next day, Eli was using her computer and saw something in Google history. "SERIOUSLY, Mom? 'Odds of Dying on Roller Coaster'? You are SO busted."

Last week, he went to a 2-hour tennis camp during the day (no one close to his level, unfortunately), and I picked him up one day at the tennis center and stayed so we could hit for a while.

On the court beside us, there was an instructor who looked like a college player, very skilled, and when we were done, we gathered our stuff and started walking off the court.

"Hey buddy," he said, and Eli looked up. "You are a STUD tennis player."

"Thank you," Eli said, in his most polite voice.

This week, to beat the heat (it's already in the high 90s here, damn it), we've been getting up at 6:30 to go play tennis. On the court around 6:45.

He's still 11. He may beat me by the end of the summer.

Today, I actually got some video.

The service motion is very, very difficult to teach, and for kids, a reliable serve is the hardest part of the game. A few months ago, though, I started having him serve a bucket of balls before we even start hitting, and it's made a big difference. Here's a video of him warming up, and notice how smooth his motion is, and how it's almost identical each time:

He can really spank that serve when he wants to, with a nice amount of spin.

Here's one more video, and it's just of us playing points. On the first three, he hits clean winners, and on the fourth, he barely misses.

This is a kid who's never even played in a tournament or been around other high-level players his age. He just works hard and likes to play.

Listen to the sound of the ball off his racquet.

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