Joyful, Joyful

It was an excellent weekend.

On Friday, J had her first gymnastics meet of the season. Ugh, watching a gymnastics meet can be stressful. The meets take literally hours (about five, on Friday), with only, oh, about five minutes of actually watching your child doing something. And those five minutes, my heart’s in my throat. I’m not hoping for a fabulously high score so much as praying that there won’t be a disastrous and humiliating fall. To make it worse, we’d compelled M to attend this meet. Most of the rest of the meets will be out of town, often in direct conflict with soccer tournaments, so we figured that this was the best opportunity to show a little family support. M had other things that she would have rather done. This was mentioned. Repeatedly. So that was unpleasant. But once we arrived, the meet itself went well. It helped that I realized that if I jumped up and danced every time M complained, it helped her to stop complaining. She was appalled that I had no shame. I assured her that being “really old” is excellent for liberating a person from shame.

Anyway, more important, J was mostly happy with her meet performance. She did very well on beam and vault, not-great on bars, and okay on floor. I’ve talked before about how meets can be a time of massive joy or major sorrow depending on how your kid did or even just how she thinks she did. J’s first meet ever felt like torture, the next year she finally had a fabulous day, and all last season, the meets were tough. Through the various meets, I’ve started to gauge it by whether my child clanks. You see, most of the time the kids will get a medal if they place relatively well in a particular event. With vault, bars, beam, floor, and all-around, that means that some kids are walking around with five medals clanking around on their chests. We’ve been to meets in which J won zero medals, and when that happens, I walk around with a smile plastered on my face curbing the inner beast that would like to launch itself out of my gut and grab all those stupid medals on all those flat little-girl chests and hiss into the girls’ ears, “Just. Be. Quiet!” So, it’s become my standard wish: please, just let J place in two events, so she can clank. On Friday she walked out of the meet clanking four medals. In fact, as we were putting on jackets to leave the building, she started to take off the medals to put into her gym bag, and I expressed surprise that she didn’t want to hear them clanking as she walked along. She agreed and put them back on, and then she walked with a particularly jaunty step, so that it was perhaps the loudest medal-clanking I’d ever heard. Heading around the building toward our parked car, we were catching up to another little gymnast, and I found myself hoping that she was sporting medals, too, and that her mom wasn’t restraining herself from telling my kid to put a lid on that clanking.

Beyond just the happy clanks, though, J’s attitude about gymnastics is so much better this year. Recently she told me about doing a practice bar routine: “It wasn’t that good. I fell off the bars twice. Well, I guess, besides that it was pretty good.” At first this made me laugh, because those routines are so short and falling off the bars is uncommon enough that falling off twice in a single routine is pretty awful. But then I realized what a miraculous change it was for J that she wasn’t beating herself up, talking about how she’s terrible at gymnastics. That’s excellent.

Then, for Saturday, we’d planned a 9:30 am viewing of the new Star Wars movie. Cute W was so excited that there was talk of playing hooky from school on Friday to go see it, but lobbied for Saturday morning so that, if the meet didn’t go well, she’d have something fun to take her mind off of it. Driving home from the meet on Friday, J was ecstatic. After last year’s season of not doing well at all, she was excited about how she’d done at the meet. She was also pumped that Cute W was picking up take-out Indian for dinner, and then I reminded her about our Star Wars plans, and she was super-psyched.

Cute W was excited, too, but he was trying to keep his expectations low so that he wouldn’t be disappointed. In our house, we call this hazard of getting really excited about something that everyone has said is spectacular “Forrest Gumping.” As in, “I’ve heard that that movie was really awesome, but I don’t want to Forrest Gump it for you.” Luckily, Cute W and the rest of us loved the new Star Wars movie. Enough said, to avoid spoilers.

On Saturday afternoon, the girls decided that they wanted to cuddle and hear stories from when they were little, and we were under blankets on the couch for literally hours before it was time to motivate and go to our neighbors’ Christmas caroling party. All in all, a pretty great couple of days.

One Comment

  1. Claire

    That’s so sweet! I always love to hear stories about older kids who still like to cuddle, because one of my biggest fears is that my son will outgrow that some day.

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