So much of my life lately revolves around the kids activities, and since Bear is so involved in gymnastics that means I am involved in gymnastics. Her first competition is coming up fast, and I have to say that although she is fairly calm, I think my nerves are getting the best of me. It is SO easy to get caught up in the drama that seems to surround any organized kids' activity, and although I consider myself a rational person I find myself struggling with this.
One such drama unfolded in Bear's class on Tuesday. There is one other girl who is Bear's age on the level 4 team. She struggles on nearly every event partially because she seems to have more fear than most of the other girls. I think she took a nasty fall off the high beam over the summer and that is when much of the trouble began. Well, on Tuesday they did their normal warm-ups and then went to practice round off flip flops on the floor (a skill necessary for their floor routine). This girl, we'll call her Allie, did the round off, but then would stop and refuse to attempt the flip flop. This skill has been inconsistent for her, and for some reason she wasn't feeling it. For some reason the coaches decided that it was necessary for her to do it on the floor that day. Of course, they knew that she was totally capable of doing it. In fact on the slightly thicker mat, she was doing some of the best flip flops I have ever seen her do, but she still wouldn't even attempt it on the floor. So as her teammates moved from floor to bars, Allie stayed on floor to practice her round off flip flop. She stayed there for 1 1/2 hours. Finally when her team was ready to move on to beam, the coaches had her get her coat and they called her Dad. She had to sit on the floor next to the beams while her teammates practiced and wait for her Dad. My heart was breaking for her. Ever once in a while tears would start streaming down her face. Remember this girl is not quite 7 years old. Finally her Dad got there, and one of the coaches went to explain what was going on. She had Allie show him her flip flop on the thick mat, and then her talked to her for a long time. You could tel that he was being firm with her, but he didn't yell or even look mean. When he was done talking she walked over to the floor and was able to do a very passable round off flip flop. Over the next 20 minutes she did dozens more on the floor. I watched in amazement asking over and over in my head, "Do the ends justify the means?" Obviously Allie just had a mental block with regards to the flip flop. I would never have believed that the tactic they used would result n her doing the flip flop that night. I really don't know that I could or would ever do what Allie's Dad did. Is it my job to back up the coaches even when they do something that makes my heart cry out for my kid? If so I am not sure I can cut it in this sport...
We had our "new to competition" orientation last night. Most of the info I already knew because I am a crazy person and have scoured the internet for information about gymnastics competition. Hair has to be secured in a neat bun, no make-up, no jewelry, sparkly (but not too sparkly) hair... It all seems so crazy, but after my time as a dance Mom I at least have a bit of a handle on that part of it. I didn't know about the "velvet rope". Apparently after you register your child at the meet you send her to her coaches on the competition floor. Once she crosses the velvet rope you are not allowed to go to her NO MATTER WHAT. So if she is scared and crying, the coaches will handle it. If she suddenly gets sick, the coaches will handle it. If she falls on an event and breaks something (unlikely at level 4), the coaches will handle it. This is a bit of a difficulty for me. I never trust anyone to "handle" things when it comes to my kids in any situation. Just trusting the coaches to handle whatever comes up is something I may not be cut out for.
Bear keeps alternating between nervousness about her first meet and unbridled excitement. One of her bar skills is a bit inconsistent, and so she is worried that she will miss it in competition. Yesterday I decided that I shouldn't assume she knows our feelings about her competitions. I told her that no matter how she scores in competition we all know that is just one day. Obviously getting a good score is fun, but the thing that makes us proud of her is her hard work and dedication every day at practice. Then I shared some info I found on he internet about the skill she was having trouble with. By the end of the talk she was beaming. Then I took her to practice where she had a great time (and was more consistent with the skill that was troubling her). Also, one of her coaches took the time to talk to me because I had mentioned Bear's nervousness. His words echoed my own feelings about competitions being just one day, and by the end of the conversation I was feeling much better.
So I guess when the time comes I will march my little girl to the velvet rope and kiss her goodbye. Then I will fight the tears as I try to navigate the stands to my place, and when she falls off the beam I will suppress my need to run to her. I may be in the stands sneaking sips of alcohol I snuck in my purse to calm my nerves, but I will do this...not because I want to or because it is easy. As I mentioned I may not be cut out to be a gym Mom, but this is what my Bear wants and I am cut out to be her Mom.