J’s first gymnastics meet of the season was today, and it was at the same Y as our first meet ever just last year. If you don’t remember, that meet ended with an excruciating awards ceremony in which my child sat hopefully and listened as many, many, many children’s names were called to receive the many, many, many ribbons that were handed out. But none for her.
For all the meets we’ve attended, kids compete at different skill levels (for example, Level 3s just do handstands, Level 4s do a cartwheel, and Level 5s do a back walkover on the beam), and then they usually divide the kids by age, too. They’re trying to make small-ish groups so that there can be a bunch of awards, but it can get a little harsh, too, because for the all-around, they generally award for every single place. So if you’ve got 7 kids aged 9 doing Level 3, after they hand out the ribbons for top performers in each separate event, they hand out all-around ribbons or medals for everyone in the group who competed in all four events. In order. So you can be “awarded” 7th place out of 7 people, and you have to go stand up in front of everybody and receive your “award” and smile and do the gymnast salute thing. Ouch.
And if that sounds like kind of a bummer, you can also be even less fortunate if you only compete in 1, 2, or 3 events because you didn’t adequately learn a routine or skill. Because then you don’t qualify for all-around at all, so even though the all-around prize sort of functions like a thanks-for-participating token, you don’t even get that. So if you’re not a top scorer in any event and you only compete in 2 or 3 events, you just sit there sucking it up and trying not to cry while they call the names, then smile and pose for the team photo with everyone else on your team holding up their ribbons.
That’s what happened to J last year. And then her mother went home and wrote an angsty post about it (after she was able to calm down).
This year we were better prepared in every way. I brought myself magazines and snacks. J had gotten in plenty of practice. And she basically swept her Level 3/Age 9 group. Well, there’s no basically about it. She won first place in all four events and all-around in her group. This year’s awards ceremony was much more enjoyable for us.
I started to write a longer post, because while J had an awesome day, between J’s meet and M’s soccer game, some of our girls’ teammates had really crappy days. At least one teammate had the same awards ceremony that J had had last year, another awesome gymnast flubbed a routine so badly that mothers in the stands who didn’t even know her were tearing up (we’re all a little overwrought at those meets), and one of M’s teammates injured herself seriously. And it made me think, again, about how we parents are so powerless so much of the time. And I kept trying to write about that. Except that there’s no appropriate way to do that today, because it comes out sounding like “our exquisite joy at our daughter’s spectacular success was tempered by so-and-so sobbing nearby.” And if I wrote that post, then someone would have to slap me.
So I’ll just give up and go to bed, grateful that J had a wonderful day and thinking, especially, about all of today’s sporty, powerful, tough, brave girls.