Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Gymnast Parent Diaries: 90% Of Life

So Do That
First meet of the year was today, and it showed the value in life in, well, just showing up.

Here's the thing about being a gymnast at age 15: it's harder, I think, then doing it earlier. There's just fewer kids that are your age, and those that are doing it are kind of hardcore about it, assuming they aren't at that full dreaming of the Olympics vibe. It's either working for you because it's how you self-identify, or because you like it as a confidence thing, and so on. Just doing it for the ability to pull off tricks, or trophies and ribbons, doesn't work anymore, because it shouldn't. You are 15, for heaven's sake. You probably have other things going on.

So it goes for the eldest, who has a lot going on, and more every day, it seems. There are Grades and Relationships and Clubs and Parties and so on and so on, and all of it is just a constant matter of scheduling your time and working efficiently, neither of which, frankly, is something that she excels at. Getting her to practice three times a week has been an absolute hairpull, and probably isn't going to get any better, realistically. Neither will the cost, because we're just not doing as well as we used to, and I'm going to be a realist about that, too.

That sets the reader for this morning, where we go a half hour (fairly short, actually) for the first meet of the year, conveniently scheduled to avoid the Eagles game, and yeah, I think that was intentional. The setting was the usual gym with the usual amenities, and, sadly, the usual lack of organizational chops.

You know how you spend 3+ hours with a football game to watch 12 minutes or so of Actual Football? Well, gymnastics meets are more like five hours and 8 minutes, the last hour of which is just waiting, waiting, waiting for the kids to get ribbons and medals and prove that people who run these things can't do simple maths quickly.

That last hour is absolute punishment, by the way. You've been on crappy folding metal chairs the entire time, most of which has been in anticipation and worry about how your kid is going to do, and all you want to do is talk to your kid and leave. If I had the ability to cut the organizers an additional check to get that hour of m life back, I would do it in a heartbeat. So would every other parent in the room, I think.

Anyway, back to the actual work. The eldest has a new floor routine that isn't quite all there yet, and she wound up limiting some of the moves in it, resulting in a routine that looked OK, but didn't score well. It was also a very long time before she got to perform, which is rarely a winning moment for her. Next up was vault, the redheaded stepchild of women's gymnastics at this level, in that it's really pretty basic and more about just completing a simple move, rather than doing anything particularly intense. In the final standings, she did not place in floor, and finished fifth in vault. At this point in the meet, her body language wasn't good, and she even came over to apologize to me and her friend for wasting our time.

I wouldn't give myself kudos for any kind of pep talk, but going to the uneven bars, which to my eyes has always been her best event due to her comparative advantages in upper body strength, was a win. She did her routine to more or less perfection, showing a confidence and poise on the bars that most kids just never reach, and wound up winning the event. The final event was balance beam, also known as the unanimous winner of the Parents Hate Watching This Award. She did her difficult tricks cleanly, kept wobbles to a minimum, and overcame her hand shaking before the dismount to close it out. That got her a second place, the satisfaction of being the only person on her team not to fall during her routine, and a second place showing in the all around. Her score in the all-around was a new personal best, and with the potential of more coming from time with the new routine, a really encouraging day, and a good ending to the day.

There's an old and simple cliche, usually attributed to Woody Allen, of how 90% of life is just showing up. That's a hard point to make, especially with creative types who are able to see other possibilities than just going to work. But it applies, and hopefully today's experience will stay with my kid for a little while.

Next meet is in a month. We'll see how it goes, in terms of getting her to practice, in the interim.

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