succumbing to peer pressure

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


So, back in the day, I was sort of accustomed to/blase about the kind of idolization that happened between younger gymnasts and older team girls. Sure, I can remember when I was the younger gymnast part of that equation, but when you start competing just shy of your ninth birthday, hit nationals at 11, and start coaching at 14, well, let's just say you're not all that emotionally mature and prepared to appreciate the sort of relationships happening in the gym around you.

Which is different from, say, now. Even though Karen, the woman who started the program where I am now coaching once a week, is a former gymnast herself, she's a lot farther from her competitive days than I am and can't do many skills anymore. So when I hang around after class and play, for most of the 'mini-team' girls, it's their first up close glance at someone really doing gymnastics. I sort of forgot about this, and the fact that they were all watching, until they broke out in spontaneous applause! Which was pretty embarrassing, but also pretty fun. And I am officially head over heels about this six year old named Hildy. She's pretty terrified of the balance beam, walks across it very slowly and hesitantly and always asks that I stand Right Here and points to the spot on the floor exactly next to her, just in case she falls. Last week (two weeks ago?) I started teaching her forward rolls on the beam and this week she spontaneously asked of we could do cartwheels on the beam! (this is a big deal) After I said yes and spotted her on one Hildy was so excited she flung her arms around me in a full-body hug. I also got her to intentionally fall off the beam, so I could catch her, and show her it isn't so scary to fall. And after class? She climbed up on the high beam, all by herself, and walked back and forth and kept asking for more stuff to do, while I stood nowhere near her. I was so proud. And Karen just e-mailed to tell me that Hildy's Mom reports that she cannot stop talking about me! I had forgotten just how quickly they get attached to you. Which means a lot of responsibility, but a lot of reward too.


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