|Brandywine Zoo, Wilmington DE
July 4, 2009
Photo taken by me.
We are not a sports family.
Correction: We are not a sports family in the sense that our kids are not scheduled to the max with practices and travel tournaments for every sport under the sun. (We ARE a sports family in that we like to partake of the watching of football, baseball, and hockey from the comfort of our family room, as well as from the occasional venture to the ballpark.)
We actually swing so much in the opposite direction that sometimes I wonder and worry if my kids have too much downtime. We’re homebodies. Islands. We like hanging out together doing our own thing. As a therapist once said to me about my relationship with The Husband, we “have a lot of cerebral interests.”
(That’ll be $125 please, and no, I don’t accept your insurance plan.)
So, when Betty started talking about taking gymnastics lessons last fall – well before all of America would fall in love with Aly or Gabby – I didn’t immediately sign her up for classes. I waited to see if this interest in gymnastics would be A Passing Thing.
One of the things I’ve learned about both my kids is that there are few fads in their world. Once they find something they like, they tend to stick with it. (Except sneakers. Boo just outgrew a pair of sneakers in three days.)
Toward the end of the school year, Betty was becoming more and more frustrated with her brother’s differences, and I began to think more seriously about the possibility of gymnastics helping as a stress-reliever. She also has a few perfectionism issues and a bit of a self-confidence boost couldn’t hurt either. So, with all that in mind, I plunked down my credit card in early June for an 8-week summer session at a local gym “just to see how this would go.”
Two classes in, she announced she LOVED gymnastics and it was absolutely helping her to feel better and she DEFINITELY OH MY GOD YES wanted to sign up for the fall. I was like, yeah, fine, whatever, let’s just get through the summer.
She kept insisting she wanted to continue in the fall, so I said that a fall session sounded all fine and well and good …
except the “next session” is an entire school year.
As in, from September to JUNE.
Not being a sports mom, I didn’t immediately realize this. Nor did I take much notice of a little thing called the 2012 Olympics. Sure, we watched – when I could figure out the damn convoluted schedule. We cheered for Gabby Douglas, et al.
Apparently, so did a lot of other people.
Summer session gymnastics finished up last night and in my cerebral-interested way, I thought I could just walk up to the counter, plunk down my credit card and sign up, no problem. What I failed to realize was that, thanks to a little thing called the Olympics, every kid and their parental unit now seems to think they are made of gold. (Or silver. Or bronze.)
This mentality annoyed me more than the possibility of Betty not getting into a class. (“Fucking Olympics.” I texted to The Husband. “Getting into a class = a zoo. Everyone suddenly has the next fucking Wheaties champion.”)
We managed to get the last spot in a class, but not before the waiting list for each class grew to 14 kids deep. I decided that I, the chick with no athletic ability whatsoever, was going to open a gymnastics studio right here in my town tomorrow, first thing. (I kid. I’d lose what’s left of my freakin’ mind.) All night long, new parents came in wanting to sign their kids up and leaving dejected once they realized they might have to tell their kid “no” or “not quite yet.”
It made me wonder who the class was really for. I’ll be completely honest and say that I have no expectations whatsoever that Betty is ever going to be standing on a stage tearing up as the American flag is raised as a gold medal is placed around her neck. Now if that happens, fantastic. Her father and I – not to mention her grandparents – will be out of our freakin’ minds. But Betty and I have had conversations about the sacrifices that Gabby Douglas and her family have made, about how she moved away from her home in Virginia to train in Iowa, and Betty has said quite bluntly that she could never do that. And I know this kid enough to know that I don’t think she could. She can do a hell of a lot, but that’s not in her persona. At least, not at almost 11 years old.
I worry about the kids being pushed into a sport for reasons other than because it is something they want to try, or something that might be a good stress-reliever for them, or a means to self-confidence and individuality, and to usurp one’s perfectionistic tendencies. This summer, gymnastics has been all of that for Betty, which is why we made the decision to continue it for this school year. It’s part and parcel of how we’re figuring out the pieces of this autism puzzle that life has dealt our family.
Maybe the throngs of people rushing to sign their kids up for gymnastics last night also had good intentions that don’t involve kids moving out of state at 14 and Wheaties boxes. I’d like to think so.
I’ll let you know in June.
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