My 5 year old daughter dreams of being the second Nadia Comaneci. I know nothing about gymnastics and personally I chose education over sports.
I took my girls to gymnastics in a school holiday when both were screaming that they are bored. All that I thought at the time was that they will spend one hour doing something fun and that will be the end of it. It wasn't. The girls begged and begged to actually enroll them. Not being too happy with the idea of having to drive them around even more then I'm already doing, I showed them some YouTube clips with Nadia Comaneci. My thought was that they will get scared and that will be the end of it. Achived the opposite result.
My youngest decided that she will be the second Nadia. So, not too willingly, I enrolled them in the closest club to home. Little did I know that it was one of the best clubs in Sydney or that one week later my 5 year old baby will be sitting an assessment for a pre levels class. I had even less idea about what pre levels means so, after she passed the assessment, I just asked the coach who happily told me that it is the class from which Elite gymnasts are chosen. The problem was that I had no idea what Elite means either. Later, I have been told that is the international competition class. Hmmm... I was very happy for my little one, and selfishly not that much for myself. Not only that we spend 5 hours a week training, but we need to extra train at home at lest 1 hour a day.
And to make things worse, my little gymnast announced me that she can't live without a beam and at least one bar. Considering that we live in an unit, bars were out of the question (lucky for my budget), but I could not find good enough reasons against a beam, so Santa will deliver.
As I said, my knowledge about gymnastics is non existent. So I started to learn in order to keep up with my girls. (Both of them do gymnastics and one hates me for life at the moment because she was "too old" at 8 years. But I will focus on the little one for now). First thing, I tried to learn the names of all those amazing moves my kid does. I gave up quickly. Then I started to watch documentaries on YouTube. That gives me an education about a sport that seems will occupy at least few years of my life.
The documentaries are amazingly educative. The comments underneath make me angry often. Apparently parents and coaches force children to train in total disregard of injuries. It seems parents are imposing their own dreams on the little girls.
Hmm... To begin with I cherish no dream of spending thousands and thousands of dollars an year for gymnastics. At the moment, without calculating lost hours of work, home equipment, leotards and so on, and fucusing only on the little one's training classes, I'm paying over 2000$ a year. Yuck.
Secondly, I have no particular passion on standing up in a gym to watch my daughter through a window. My feet are totally revolting and I got as far as having to buy flat shoes, instead of my usual high heels.
Thirdly, I'd rather read a book in the bed with my beauties.
Injuries... In gymnastics is a reality. Thankfully, until now I did not have to deal with broken bones or torn ligaments. However, my tiny tot managed to get rips. Rips are blisters that break. Having gotten few myself along the way, I know how painful they are. So, my little child comes out of the gym and shows me her palm. Three red marks where the first layer of skin is gone adorn her palm. I gave her a hug, took her to wash the chalk of her hands and suggested we go home. My well thought suggestion was faced with anger. She refused to go home. Ok, I thought. She will do something else except bars.
I let her go back into the gym and Missy goes straight to the coach. From what I can see, Missy is arguing with the coach. Did I mention that Leyla (my daughter) is only 5? Oh well, her coach, a fantastic woman that I respect, is older then me. Soon after, I see Leyla back onto the bars. Hmm... Not much that I can do other then having a word with her coach after. Which I did. She told me she tried to convince my stubborn child not to do bars for the rest of the day. But she totally ignored that and went straight back into training.
I was not too happy to have no control over 5 year old. So, after we got home and had dinner, I sat her down to give her a piece of my mind. Surprisingly she listened. She rarely does. After I finished, secure in my illusion that I made myself clear, she starts talking.
"Look, mama. I know that today I didn't do as good as I could. I will do better tomorrow. And I know I hurt my hand. And it hurts. But if I want to be the next Nadia, I need to work much harder."
What to say? Where from so much logic all of a sudden? I tried to continue explaining my point, but all I got was that she wants a Perfect 10. I could reproach her the fact that she is stubborn, but would be hypocritical of me as I am stubborn myself. I just had to accept that my 5 year old has a mind of her own and all I can do is to make sure I will be there to catch her when she falls.
I know for a fact that I don't push my child. What is hard to come to terms with is the fact that are areas where I have no control. And I try to be happy that at a bare minimum she chose a sport to channel all her stubbornness into.
Other then that, right now I pray. Pray for my child to not get hurt, to not break her soul striving for perfection, to not pick up eating disorders... Pray that she achieves her dreams... Not much else I can do other then striving for the impossible myself. That impossible for me is forking all the money for her dream. Because I do not have the power to say no to her. Not to a dream.