The Race Marked Out For Her…?

Do you ever feel like a small decision you have to make, could end up snow-balling into something much bigger?  When you catch yourself feeling that way, do you dismiss the concerns and act, or do you start considering all the possible ramifications from the start?

Before this gets any more cryptic, here’s my own real-life example.  I’ve written before about Little A and her love for gymnastics.  We did a mommy-and-me class together when she was between 2 and 3, and now that we’ve moved, we found a new gym and a class for preschoolers.  It meets once a week for 45 minutes.   The gym offers open time twice a week, for an hour each, when kids can try anything they see with their parent/caregiver’s supervision and help.

Little A can’t get enough right now.  She goes into her class, wonders why it’s over so quick, has a snack, and then goes non-stop at open gym half an hour later.  She counts the days until she can go to the gym again.  When she’s not at the gym, she spends much of her time at home in her leotard, practicing handstands, rolls, “vaults” on the sofa arm, splits, “balance beam” on the outer edge of my platform bed, and jumps off of the bed, as well as anything else she can get me to help her do!

Now, one part of me remembers each of the intense phases she has gone through in the past year.  For a while, she couldn’t get enough of “The Sound of Music”.  She talked about the characters, memorized the songs, drew pictures of the children, and listened to the music as much as I would let her.  Then, she totally lost interest in it altogether.  Next, she carried a large magna-doodle pad everywhere she went and spent her days drawing faces and writing letters.  That, too, fizzled quite a bit.

Will gymnastics be the same?  One Wednesday, will she just decide she doesn’t feel like going to class anymore?  Will something new take its place?

On the other hand, I see natural ability starting to emerge.  Last week, her teacher saw her pushing herself up on a low (little-kid sized) bar and was very impressed by her “perfectly pointed toes”.  After class, she asked me to bring Little A to a different class this coming week.  At first, I thought it was the same class as hers, just later, to compensate for too many kids in one class.  I soon discovered her teacher moved her up to a class of 5 year olds, in her words, “not because of her age, but because of her skill”.

That’s when my Mommy wheels started turning.  I know very little about the world of junior gymnastics.  I have done some research in the past few days, though, and I am seeing that recreation can turn into competition pretty quickly.  V and I both agreed that we would let A take “this” as far as she wants it to go–but I’m not sure we really considered all the potential impact that could have on our family if she wants to go really far!

I’m probably getting way ahead of myself and being really presumptuous, thinking that one change of class because of early skill might lead to a particular path.  But am I wrong to think ahead, to consider what it all might look like if this really is “the race marked out for A”?  What if God gave her this strength, ability, and desire as special gifts?  Wouldn’t I then be foolish and close-minded to keep A from pursuing her talents?

For now, I’m going to see how this Wednesday goes, and take it all one week at a time.  I love seeing my little girl so full of joy when she is able to do new things.  I love seeing her finally separate from me in a healthy way to do an activity she loves.  I love seeing her strong muscles, graceful limbs, and determined face do things I’ve never been able to do, already.  Most importantly, I love her.  If she decides to stop going to the gym this week, I love her.  If she takes us all on a whirlwind all the way to the top, I love her.  If, and I suppose this is the most likely, we have a great time somewhere in the middle, I love her.

No matter what my children do, I want them to find things that bring them joy, that bless others, and that use their God-given gifts.  I want them to do their best, to embrace challenge, to learn from mistakes and obstacles, and to always grow from the inside out.  I heard a great reminder from our pastor this morning to make prayer a priority.  When we feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to do, pray first.  V and I have always prayed over our children, and this situation will be no different!  (Praise God for wanting us to bring everything to him in prayer!)

Any other gym parents or gymnasts or coaches out there?  I’ve already gathered a fair amount of wisdom from some with much more experience, but I love hearing stories and advice from those who have “been there, done that”.  

Non-gymnastics parents, I’d love to hear from you, too.  How much do you tend to invest (time, money, etc.) in your children’s interests at a young age?

Thank you in advance for everyone who stops by to read my ramblings, and for the interest you take in what I write.  Many blessings as you continue *your* race!

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6 comments

  1. That’s so great that she’s doing so good at this at such a young age! I know what you mean though about struggling with how far to take things when it seems that kids have passing fancies so often. Right now my daughter really wants to start karate. It is a big investment money and time wise for us so I’m waiting a bit to see if she is sure!

    1. I can imagine you understand the complications that arise, too, when one child wants to do something extracurricular and you want to keep it “fair” or “even” for the other(s). I’m excited to hear if Iris starts karate! It’s fun to see these interests and talents grow! –Alison

  2. How wonderful that little A has possibly found an activity that she loves and is gifted at. My personal thoughts about children’s activities is to allow them at least one thing they can excel at and enjoy. It will keep her busy as she ages and help her through the tough teen years.

    You are wise to desire not to pressure or to have the focus change from fun to competition. Keep listening to the Lord and you both will soar.

    My daughter adores piano. She composes music and learns quickly. But we do not pressure her to practice etc. It is her gift to enjoy.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    1. Yes, enjoyment is key! I can’t keep her away from it right now, so no worries there! I hope we can guide her and encourage her wisely, as it sounds like you are doing with your daughter’s musical gifts!

  3. Hi Alison. The joys of having a gifted child are as demanding as having a child with special needs. Either way, you are living in your car either driving to appointments or classes LOL. Miss did physical culture last year in addition to her dancing. She had initally been told that she was a natural and she does well at ballet and points well but it quickly became too much for us with all the hair and makeup and driving hours at a time to competitions. Also, she didn’t place. The teacher had good results but was quite fanatical and it started to feel like a bit of an obsessive disease in the end. We stopped going and decided to focus more on dance. There is a dance team at the dance school and they need to audition for that and that requites extra lessons as well as being able to do all the hair and outfits. Of course, that means time and money. She has expressive interest but I wonder if we could keep up with all of that..especially with my health.
    In terms of your Little A being interested in a range of creative pursuits, I don’t see a problem with that. Could be a form of cross-training. I have found listening to music really inspires me to paint and I’m always writing and I think the three work together well just like athletes run, do weights etc. to improve their performance. xx Ro

    1. We are definitely taking everything on a week-to-week basis. I would love for both my children to find a passion (or two) that we can allow them to fully pursue. It does get tricky with more than one child, for sure. As an only child, I sometimes take for granted how much time I got to spend at our tennis club!

      I loved what you said about the demands of having gifted children. I love talking with others who understand this–the delight paired with exhaustion! 🙂

      Thank you for all of your thoughtful comments. I always enjoy hearing from you. I forgot to say in my previous reply, that I hope your mom’s surgery goes well.

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