Sunday, December 20, 2015

Gymnast Parent Diaries: Unwelcome Drama

Even More Than Usual, Really
People perform at less than 100% all the time. I've done it, you've done it, everyone who has ever groaned their way into an office after a late night has done it. Athletes as well, of course, and there's been any number of times when I've played hockey or golf or poker or hoop or ran when I didn't really feel entirely great about the enterprise. As Woody Allen says, 90% of life is showing up. Showing up matters.

Of course, when you or I show up, we're not swinging from a thin piece of wood while trying to do flips and turns, while wearing a small and tight amount of clothing, as some stranger judges you.

This experience was for my eldest today, completing the second meet in six days. Even under the best of circumstances, this was not a great moment in scheduling, especially with pre-Xmas stress, but it's not as if these things are set up with the greatest amount of planning. The kids need to have so many meets to give them a fair shot at qualifying for States, and the more meets, the more money gets made by the various gyms that host the events. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

Which meant that, on some level, the eldest didn't need to go to this one. She's already qualified for States, the event wasn't in any way noteworthy or special, and there wasn't any more drama attached to it than any other. But, still. You're on a team, and 90% of life is repeating cliches. Off she went.

In any gymnastics meet, there's tension for the spectator, because, well, people can get hurt. They don't, as a general rule, because the kids rarely do anything they haven't practiced to death, and the coaches are hovering constantly to make sure nothing happens, but still, bodies in motion and gravity are a potent mix. This is never more in play than when the kid is on bars or beam, since both involve more gravity than floor or vault, and the kid is very focused on not falling, which tends to, well, make falls happen more often than not.

So when your kid looks shaky *before* the event, not from nerves but from some unknown amount of illness-induced dizziness? And when she's got the usual levels of 15-year-old drama regarding competition, both within her own team and other competitors? Not exactly a relaxing spectator experience.

Anyway, she got through it, performed to her near usual levels, won two events and the all-around, and will likely spend the next 36 hours doing very little. Me, I'll be grinding through other tasks, and trying not to watch the videos that I posted of her on social media, because man alive, watching her nearly fall just walking around the mat, then getting on apparatus? Not fun, folks. Not fun at all. Even when it all works out...

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