When Peanut was two, we decided that we would put her in gymnastics. From that time until this year, her dream has been to be a competitive gymnast. We worked on it. We put her in the classes, paid the money, did the private lessons, and even moved to a better gym. And here we are at the end of her first competitive season. Lord have mercy. I've learned a lot. The gymnastics "season" runs forever. It starts in August with the paying of fees. Coaches fees, equipment fees, uniform fees, USAG fees, meet fees, have-to-have-the-right-bag fees, we-can't-think-of-a-name-for-this-fee fees, and are-you-sure-there's-money-left-in-your-account-we-haven't-taken-yet fees. Clark Kent and I, like the other parents, rolled in to the gym and got squeezed at every opportunity for something. Its how it goes. Gymnastics is full of fees. And time. Nine hours a week, to be specific. And this is just the first year. There are girls at Peanut's gym that go 20 hours a week. Twenty Hours. A part time job with no pay. This is a time consuming sport.
I also learned that the word Coach is the antithesis of the word Communication. Its impossible to use the two in a sentence that give any coherent idea of what is going on in the gym. Coaches don't communicate. Not through email, not through letters sent home, not through the phone (though they have the fancy smartphones), and especially not in person ("Oh hey, since you're standing here talking to me about the latest Words with Friends app update, I'll let you know there's extra practice in the morning" ... never happens). I think its a fundamental law of the universe. The number 42 and Coach miscommunication. Its the way things are. Grab your towel.
Soccer moms have nothing on gym moms. Not a thing. This year I made 18 pairs of flip flops and 18 bows for the team. 18 cutesy girls competed too. It was great. Soccer moms don't make hair bows. Our gym hosted a meet. That's hours of decorating, hand painting, brainstorming, and preparing stuff that in the long run no one notices anyway. Its an amazing world, and an amazing family that you have at the gym. I suppose spending countless hours of your life watching your child put herself in peril does that. Its a sort of "oh my goodness, she's really going to do that" camaraderie. I never get used to it. Every single time my child ran toward the vault mats at a meet I held my breath. And meets are everywhere. Not always, I've learned. But this year ours were. We let Coach I-don't-have-small-kids pick the meets this year. How do I know this, you wonder? They were eight hours away. They were up north in the dead of winter. They were eight hours away. But Peanut went. And she did pretty well. Not a gold medalist, but she didn't care. I love that. She had fun.
Lucky bows and Lucky Hair.
Fast forward to the Tennessee State Championships. Rules are different and routines are different and the girls all had new bows. Lucky bows. And curls. Peanut's hair isn't curly. It actually protests at the very idea of curls. "I'm not cheerleader hair" it told me. "Do I look like pageant hair?" it whined. But it stayed. And it liked the lucky bow. Thanks hair. Thanks for supporting Peanut in this madness.
At State there was the Old Gym Team, with Old Gym Coaches. This is the place from which Peanut and I ran running. The place that defined my "mama bear" attitude. The place that told Peanut she'd never be good enough for team. The place with the coaches t hat made her cry. At the State Championships. And I secretly wanted Old Gym Team to do bad. Am I mean and petty? Oh you bet. Every minute of the day when it comes to that place. Overall, our gym did better than Old Gym. Reassurance that Peanut is in the right place.
The awards ceremony was something else. See, the thing is you drive 3 hours, sit for four hours to watch your daughter for a total of about 3 minutes. What other sport has that much build up? Floor -- 45 seconds. Bars -- 15 seconds. Beam -- 45 seconds. Vault -- 30 seconds. Unless of course some jerk Coach from some other team has his girls warming up beam next to the vault track thus causing your daughter to have a redo 3rd run. Then its 45 seconds. But hey, I'm not mad at that dude. The rest is waiting. Waiting for the awards ceremony. No matter what meet your at, the awards ceremony is like a beautifully choreographed train wreck. State Championships were no exception. And of course, with so many girls there, not everyone gets a medal. Its State CHAMPIONSHIPS. Peanut, and all the other girls, had to qualify. This is finals. No participation medals here. So of course little girls were crying. I even felt slightly bad they were from Old Gym Team. Slightly. There mamas were mad. "Everyone should get at least one medal" they pouted. Yeah well, they don't. And be honest with yourselves -- if your daughter had finished 1st, not 14th, you wouldn't say that. That's only the whining of someone who should have put their kid in soccer. Everyone gets a trophy at the end of that season.
So here I sit reflecting on all of it. Peanut placed 4th in the state in her division. Proud would be an understatement. I am overjoyed. Its time to move on to next year. They want me on the booster club board. They don't know me well. The season draws to a close and we can start preparing for next year. I'll jump in for lucky bows, pretty signs and cutesy flip flops. There's got to be a "Make Cute Things" Committee. That's for me. And I'm going to start saving for the fees. I'm thinking organ harvesting for the black market trade. I hear its profitable. Gymnastics is a once-in-a-lifetime event that Peanut loves. So its worth it. And I do love the drama, excitement and lucky bows.