Two years ago, when Maggie was 4 (FOUR!), we signed her up for a summer gymnastics program. Eight weeks, just to get her introduced and see if she liked it. My main goal was to see if she could get over her fear of New Things, and maybe get a little more confident, a little braver, a little less “I can’t do that!” She really liked it. She STILL likes it.
Last Friday night, she had her gymnastics show. It was very low-key (especially at this age) but it was still great to watch her get out it front of a roomful of strangers and dance and flip and jump and climb without hesitation. And she even stopped in the middle to show off her first loose tooth to her teacher (because of course! It’s important!)
But even with all of her bravery in front of a crowd, she’s still Maggie. She LOVES gymnastics, but she is a perfect mix of cautious and stubborn so HELL if she’ll even try to do a pullover on the bars. I watched all year, every week, as her teacher encouraged and explained and BEGGED her to try it. The teacher will guide her! He won’t let her fall! I thought for sure by the end of this year, she would do it. It’s one of the very few skills holding her back from moving to the next level. But until she knows she can do something perfectly, she won’t attempt it. And if she feels like she doesn’t have control of her body, she’s afraid. (She miiiight get this from her mother. Age 34. Still can’t roller skate.) She’s like this with learning to ride her bike without training wheels (first attempt was Tuesday night. It ended in tears!)
She’s incredibly strong for being a tiny 40 pounder. Her form in almost everything else is EXCELLENT. Every teacher she’s had has commented on her beautifully pointed toes, her nice straight legs and arms, her perfectly executed backward roll. But get her on those bars? She’ll do strong arms! She’ll hang upside down! But she will not flip. Nope. Forget it. Not until SHE wants to do it. No amount of watching the other gymnasts do something will convince her that she’s ready to do that flippy-thing. “It’s too FAST, Mommy!”
Honestly, I love this about her. I can only hope as she enters her tween and (GULP) teen years, that she keeps this confidence in knowing what she wants and not letting anyone- not even the promise of ICE CREAM FROM HER MOTHER!- change her mind.
Now that she’s headed to first grade, she’s completed the preschool-level classes at her gym and now she’s moving up to the skill-based classes. They did an evaluation in May and she completed all the skills to move to Level 2 this summer. Her Level 1 ribbon came in the mail this week and she was very proud. But again- cautious. Her first concern? “I don’t want to do my pullover!”
You know what, kid? You don’t have to. We can even still get ice cream after.