Some of you might remember waaaaaaaaaaay back when I had the kids in a little gymnastics class. We’ve been long-time customers of our local Parks and Rec, and if they offer a sport at least one of the Pair kids have probably tried it. Basketball (Noise loved, Funk hated), baseball (Noise loved, Funk wouldn’t even try), dance (Noise and a bunch of little girls in tutus)… it’s cheap and a great place for kids to try new things with very little commitment. Forty bucks, eight weeks, and even if they hate it they get a cute little certificate and you never have to enroll again.
And so it began with Funk and gymnastics:
Cuteness, no? What could be better than a pudgy four year old in a leotard, I ask you? (NOTHING, THAT’S WHAT.)
But time has marched on, and Funk is no longer that pudgy little girl in the leotard. She is a SEVEN year old, thankyouverymuch, and over the past six months her love of gymnastics has flowered into a passion– nay, dare I say– obsession.
This is Funk on the way to her very first honest to goodness gymnastics meet. Competing with those Parks and Rec girls, a ragtag bunch of knobbly knees and missing front teeth, she was all aflutter. It was obvious from the get-go that our girls were not the well-coifed, heavily made-up product of the “big gyms,” but they could NOT have been more happy. They were all lovely.
And I wouldn’t be Funk’s mother if I didn’t feel she was exceptionally lovely.
She was so lovely, in fact, that she was “on the podium” (fourth place or above) in every event, and third All-around in her group.
And that while I felt like she was getting pretty good before this meet, you really could have knocked me over with a feather. She was so poised, so focused, so… HOLY CRAP THIS IS GOING TO COST A CRAPTON OF MONEY.
It was on the way home that Funk first asked us about going to a “real gym.”
Yes, that would be the afore-mentioned well-coifed, heavily made-up production gyms.
See, our little ol’ Parks and Rec program only goes up to a level 4 in gymnastics. We don’t have a lot of the right equipment, and we definitely don’t have the space to keep moving girls up the skills ladder. For those of you versed in gymnastics, we don’t even have a springboard floor. Parks and Rec was made to give kids a taste of a sport… for them to take somewhere else.
After the first meet, we decided to wait it out another year. Funk is only a level three right now, after all, and we reasoned that one meet does not an Olympic gymnast make. Parks and Rec is planning to build a real gym and grow the program, hopefully in the next two years. And P.S. gymnastics is helllllllllllllla expensive. Those “real gyms” cost bank we Pairs ain’t got.
And then Funk had the opportunity to compete in another meet. In the time between the first and second meet, however, two big things happened: 1) Funk turned 7, and 2) she fell off the beam in practice. We noticed in practice that she was more tentative, a little more scared. We braced ourselves for the real test: a bad meet. In the first meet, Funk competed as one of the very oldest six year olds. In the second, she would compete as a newly-minted seven year old with girls almost a year older. Add to that equation her newly found wobble on the beam, and… well… we reasoned that we could best assess her love of the sport after a BAD meet, even moreso than after a good one.
But she didn’t have a bad meet. She didn’t have as great a meet as the first one, but she scored a 9.4 on the bars and took fifth in her group. Even with her wobble on the beam. And she didn’t slow down. And she doesn’t appear that she will.
On the way home, we were talking about how different kids have different barriers in gymnastics– in some kids, that might be a lack of flexibility. Other kids might struggle with remembering the routines. Others, we hinted, might have fears they need to overcome.
“Lucky for me,” she said, “in gymnastics I have no barriers at all. I will be just as good as I work to be.”
And so we discuss it. Move her? Don’t? Gymnastics is such a high-pressure, sometimes dangerous sport. There are ugly politics and moms with large blonde hair who chew their gum like cows and wear bejeweled shirts that say, “GYMNASTIC MOMS BEND OVER BACKWARDS.” And it’s hard work and so competitive and crazy expensive and so much time and did I mention I’m going to need to sell a kidney?!?
But she loves it.
Bottom line, she loves it. She works for it. And she’s good. So we’ll tour gyms in the next month. Start learning the lingo, asking the questions, and finding out whether it’s even possible. Or desirable. Or necessary right now.