This Is Our Gymnastics Backstory
When my daughter went for her first year well visit as an infant, her pediatrician casually said
“she has the physique of a gymnast”
as I placed her on the examination table. I not only heard what the doctor said, I closely monitored her physical development from that time on. And I observed how my young toddler was advanced kinesthetically. Hopping, climbing, running, dancing, twirling, and skipping were among the movements that she mastered at a young age. Because she loved being active, I responded to the comment the doctor made months earlier by investigating gymnastics as soon as my daughter became two years old.
The Mommy and Me classes that I took with her progressed to recreational gymnastics classes. Then she moved into advanced gymnastics quickly. When a coach informed me that she was ready to begin training to become a competitive gymnast at the age of four, I realized that it was in my daughter’s best interest to support her development in this sport. And I embraced this possibility even though I was never athletic and assumed my daughter would become exclusively devoted to her academics and music like I was. Supporting my daughter caused me to accept her individuality.
The excitement that my little girl continuously displayed for gymnastics at the gym, at home, at school, and everywhere she went was evident. She constantly practiced maneuvers and created her own. Every area of our home became her gym. My daughter became one with her sport and grew to love everything about it.
School projects and special assignments reflected her passion for gymnastics as well. When my daughter was enrolled in first grade and studied a poetry unit, she wrote a series of poems about gymnastics.
The author’s daughter at six years old
While clearing out my home to prepare for a move, I recently found the poems that my daughter wrote for her first-grade poetry assignment. With the permission of my now 16-year-old gymnast, we would like to share them below.
Straight legs, pointed toes, and arms out,
when I leap I feel like I’m flying like a butterfly spreading its wings after coming out of a cocoon.
When I tumble I’m rolling and rolling and rolling,
I feel like a bird falling out of a tree and rolling down a hill.
Tuck my head,
bend my knees,
and jump back!
I ran and
jumped off the springboard.
Then I plunged on the mat.
I ran back and did it again.
I only did it twice.
I flipped on.
I put my leg through.
I go around.
I shot my leg out.
I jumped and finished!
The floor music started.
I jump then tumble and jump again.
Then I leap in the air and tumble some more.
I leap and finish it then they clapped.
The music started again so I did it again.
They clapped again and I was done.
I got on and did a handstand.
Then a leap,
then jump and jump.
Then cartwheeled and jumped the leap and finished.
Her Gymnastics Ambitions
The author’s sixteen-year-old gymnast
My daughter’s enjoyment of gymnastics continues. She balances training and her competitive season with school, travel, and personal obligations. And she desires to continue developing as an athlete.
Aside from becoming a surgeon in the future, her most immediate goal is to become a collegiate gymnast.
As a parent, I am confident that these dreams will come true for her because her sport has taught her the meaning of
- hard work,
- perseverance, and
Photo by Philippe Murray-Pietsch on Unsplash
Mothers and fathers who nurture their child’s interest in athletics from their earliest beginnings hold the key to their success in their sport. And so do mentors and coaches who remain actively engaged in the lives of children and young people who assume this role with parents or in place of parents.
The financial and time sacrifices parents make as athletic skills are developed over time enable young athletes to thrive as they open their hearts to focus on their sport. And the encouragement infused with patience that mothers and fathers continuously and unconditionally give to their children releases confidence that allows their athletes to become the best version of themselves. This results in their sons and daughters developing good sportspersonship skills to persevere and remain committed as well as to respect their sport.
Participation in athletic programs helps children and young people develop life skills that transfer to other areas of their life.
Thank you for reading this story. If you enjoyed it, here is another one related to gymnastics for you to also enjoy.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Dr. Deborah M. Vereen(The author and her two-year-old daughter are shown at the beginning of their gymnastics journey.)