Thursday, September 5, 2013

our little gymnast

Dear Em,
This past week has been busy. Not only did you start school, you also started gymnastics. I feel like whenever I've talked to parents with older children about how busy our life is, I often get the eye roll. Then I get the "just wait until your daughter is involved in sports & activities." They look at me like I don't even have a clue. It's kind of scary.

Maybe that's why we've waited to enroll you in anything. We have been thinking about enrolling you in some type of sport for a while but hadn't done it yet. We waited until you were just a little older, & we were ready to give up traveling on the weekends. And then, because I guess we're an all or nothing type of family, we decided to enroll you in not one, but two activities: soccer & gymnastics.

I remember taking gymnastics when I was in third grade. I realized when I couldn't land a cartwheel & the rest of the class was doing walk-overs that maybe I should have started gymnastics before third grade. My expectations of your first gymnastic class mostly came from my experiences with my own. Unfortunately, I realized as soon as we walked through the doors of Aim High Academy that things have changed a lot since I was in third grade.

For starters, we quickly noticed every single girl (& there were tons) were dressed in leotards...except for you. I had dressed you in a t-shirt & a pair of shorts. I mean, that's what I wore during my short-lived third grade gymnastics career. As I looked around, I felt my face get red. We were clearly rookies.

"Why don't we just buy a leotard really quick," your grandma, seeing the racks of leotards that were for sale, sensibly asked. On the one hand, I felt like it was ridiculous for a three year old to need a leotard, on the other hand I felt really dumb for not knowing that my three year old needed a leotard. "That's a great idea," I looked at your grandma thankfully. We looked through the racks quickly & found you a tie-dye onsie. I pulled the tag off & gave it to your grandma (who had generously offered to gift it to you) & hurried to where you were standing with Daddy & Grandpa. Right in the hallway I stripped off your clothes & put on your leotard just in time for you to begin your first class.

Phew, thanks to Grandma, crisis avoided. Maybe we weren't going to look like rookies after all.

It was in the middle of this commotion that I saw one of the most devastating & offensive signs I have ever seen. The sign started with "No Parents Past This Point" (we were to stay out in the hallway & watch through the windows that lined it, no biggie, I figured it was to avoid interference from crazy parents) & ended with "No Pictures or Video Allowed." What?! You mean my daughter was taking her very first gymnastics class, her very first anything class, & I wasn't allowed to document every second of the experience?! Seriously, what?! I felt like I had lost my purpose in life. I almost cried, but I pulled myself together (maybe if they allowed pictures, I would have been able to see from someone elses photos that you needed a leotard).

With no camera or iPhone in my hand, I felt a little lost, but I was free to just watch you, I mean really watch you (from the windows of course). We watched you do stretches. We watched you leap. We watched you roll. We watched you balance on the balance beam. We watched you swing on the rings (they were your favorite). We watched you hold yourself up on the even bars. For each and every activity we watched you listen to the coaches & then performed what they had asked.

Then we watched you leave the group for a few minutes & return with your leotard on the opposite way. It was at that moment that I realized I had put your leotard on backwards. I felt my face turn tomato red again. Sigh. So much for not looking like a rookie.

Even with the embarrassment of your attire & the frustration of not being able to take five billion photos, I was absolutely dazzled by you. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was your very first gymnastics class, & right before our eyes you had transformed into a gymnast. From the gigantic smiles on your face, it was clear you were loving every precious moment.

When your class ended, you ran out of the gym like a joyful ball of energy. "Mom, did you see me? Did you see me?" You bounced straight into my arms. I was blinking back tears. I was so proud of you & excited for what will come this gymnastic season. As we turned to leave, your face changed. "But mom, I'm not ready to leave yet. Can't I do more gymnastics," you whimpered. You looked at all of the other classes going on with longing. You wouldn't take my hand to leave until I had promised you that we would return in a week.

Just outside the doors of the facility, I snapped a quick picture of my little love in her very first gymnastics leotard (I felt a little like a rebel).

Although I wasn't able to take pictures, I will hold this moment in my heart forever. It was a moment that you tried something completely knew & realized that you loved it. It was a moment that you left Mommy & Daddy (& Grandma & Papa too) behind & did amazing things without us. It was a moment that my heart overflowed with pride & love for our little gymnast. I don't know how far you will take gymnastics into your future, but I love that you loved it in this moment (even if we are rookies).

I love you so,

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