Wednesday, 26 October 2011


I am still very proud of my beautiful little gymnast. I am not very sure yet how do I feel about it, but I am proud. She is so small, and lean and so strong. She smiles so bright when she gets a trick right!

Trick... From my understanding, a trick is a combination of moves on either apparatus. I could be wrong, but that's what it seem to mean. Leyla seems to get her tricks right fast, which I presume is a good sign. Yesterday, her very tough coach told me that in a class where all her girls are very good at vault, Leyla is a star. In two weeks she perfected a trick that normally takes one year. I think that is great. Isn't it?

Where to my doubts start? It might have something to do with the fact that my already small and skinny now daughter needs to be on a low carb diet. Or it could be the fact that being sick is not a good idea and being tired is totally unacceptable. Or maybe the fact that half the girls are terrified of the coach.

It could be the insane competition and at times meanness of the parents. Parents which are not allowed to even take a tiny look at their daughters' training.

From where I stand, being the parent of an Elite gymnast is a status of its own. Ok, I get the sacrifices that are being made by families to ensure that their daughters have proper training and proper leotards. I make those sacrifices myself, not only in time, but also from a financial point of view. And I understand the pride. Because I feel it myself. It is hard not to feel it when your child was one of the very few invited into the very tiny group of Elite gymnastics.

But mothers that last school term would not even glance my way as we entered the change rooms, and totally ignored my daughter as well, now are smiling and chatting to us because we have the same status. Mothers that were chatting and smiling before, don't bother anymore because there is too much anger at the fact that my daughter was invited and theirs were not. And parents talk down to the parents of the non Elite girls.

And that is without even looking at the girls themselves who in one short month became all of a sudden arrogant and learned to look down onto the other girls that were not so fortunate.

As for Leyla... She is equally as arrogant as all the other girls are. Same attitude of I am better then you that was not there before. I will give her what she deserves, she is good. She is amazing. But I notice the change, and it makes me wonder.

And I think that this is my problem. I wonder. Is it the beast thing that my daughter will have to push her body past its limits? That she will miss out on having a childhood? And, even if she is happy and she loves it, I wonder...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Trouble trouble boil and bubble

While mu little princess has nothing to do with being a witch, we managed to get into trouble at gymnastics.

First it was the fact that Leyla had a musical concert at school for which she practiced for about 6 weeks. When I told that her coach last week she was quite ok with it. What I did not know and found out only on Monday was the fact that Leyla's dad decided to make a dentist appointment in the same day and time with Leyla's gymnastics training.

And here is where, announcing the coach, I received a look that could have dried my roots had I been a plant. If I were a man. most likely I would have totally missed it, so short and veiled it was. I counted my lucky starts that she did not kick Leyla off the team instantly. But if eyes can talk, I certainly received that message.

That is the disadvantage of being on the international team. You can not miss a class. Or at least not for conflicting interests with school or medical appointments. Maybe if you are really really sick? I already know that rips are not an excuse... And pulled muscles don't matter. That's why they invented all those support bandages... A cold or a flu? Push half a Berocca before the class... Exhausted? No problem. That's why the shops sell protein shakes... And so on...

When we consider that my gorgeous gymnast is only 5, it makes me wonder if it was such a good idea to enroll her in such a demanding sport.

But she loves it! And is a pleasure to watch. :)

Monday, 17 October 2011

International Develoment Program

With Leyla in Pre-Levels and my other daughter in Colors,I allowed myself to relax and get used with spending five hours a week in the gymnasium. Time and money seemed quite balanced.

Then I got an e-mail from Leyla's coach saying she was invited to sit an assessment for Elite or the International program. It was yet another lesson in determination.

I was able to watch only the last 30 minutes out of the two and a half hour assessment. In those thirty minutes I watched my 5 year old daughter showing a physical strength that I did not believe possible. With her little hands gripping the bar, she lifted her small but already muscular legs above her head. Not once, not twice, but nine times. She made it look easy. She did not sweat, did not cringe. The only thing tat showed she pushed herself to the limits was the thin line of her otherwise little plumed lips.

From the side, me and other mothers were quietly cheering our children.Not only our own, bu the other mothers' as well. We tried to keep our voices in control, not letting the excitement bring up the amazement we were feeling as we were counting yet another leg lift.

After that, little hands went back on the bars, lifting the little bodies until the chin reached above their hands. Chin ups. Again, we were cheering the little kids. I could see Leyla's effort in the way her little muscles trembled slightly. And again, one after the other, easier at the beginning and with more effort towards the end, my baby managed ten.

After the assessment was finally finished, I asked her coach how did she go. "She wanted it, worked hard for it and I'd be surprised if she does not get it".

And so, one week later, as I was sitting down on the bench watching other girls, the head coach came to me, inviting me to chat. I was nervous. Very nervous, not for me, but for the little baby that was my daughter.

Leyla did good. She showed strength and flexibility, and potential.  But because she is so tiny and just started gymnastics 10 weeks before, she was offered a three months trial in the International Development Program.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

International Gymnastics and Parenting

After 9 weeks of training in Colors and Pre Levels, I have been announced that following a very hard assessment, Leyla was accepted in the International Development Program.

Like every parent, my first feeling was insane pride in my little angel. I mean she is just five years old ad dd gymnastics for the most part of only one school term. So many little girls sat the assessment! Watching them was both an experience and an education. In their little colorful leotards, small, lean, strong girls of barely fave and six years long went on and on doing splits, bridges, walking gracefully up and down the beam with increasing difficulty. And hen off to bars after situps and pushups. Bars meant leg lifts which look quite easy on this little girls but are so hard in reality. And chin ups. I can't even do one, but that being said are so many things that amaze me.

Some children treated the assessment as another class. Some gave 100%, some less and some more. On some of the little faces one could see the determination and the effort it took to go passed their best into the realm of amazing. The concentration and will on their little faces was a lesson. They pushed and when there was no strength left, they continued fueled just by their dreams.

I expected my little angel to be tired after such hard work. But she wasn't. She was just calm and collected and said she did all that she could. Did any of us expected more? Did she think that she will go into the class she worked for? I didn't ask her. Even as I was watching her, I was thinking of that moment when she was doing all she could, not to the result.

But one week later, the head coach pulled me aside and told me that Leyla is strong, flexible, has the right body and the right state of mind. I was nervous. She also told me that Leyla is very young and just started gymnastics. Which I knew better then anyone. And that she shows potential. So she was accepted into the International development Program, or IDP as I will call it from now on.

When happily I went to tell Leyla, she just looked me in the eyes, seriously, and said "I know. i worked hard for it". There was no joy on her face. Just self respect and self knowledge, just determination. It was a feeling of "I deserved it", without the joy of getting what she wanted, just with a serious contemplation of having to say good bye to most of the girls she trained with for two months and determination of going at the same pace.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

My Little Gymnast

My daughter, Leyla, is 5 and a half years old. She is tiny, with light brown hair, sparkling black eyes. If i were to define her personality, I would have to stick to sparkling, not only because her eyes are so, bu because she has the gift to make the people in her presence feeling like having had a glass of bubbles.

Until three months ago I thought that my youngest daughter was cute, lovable, cuddly and kind. In the last three months I learned that other descriptions asked to be added. Determined. Hard working. Confident. Smart. Talented. Strong.

It all started with one free gymnastics class in the previous school holidays when having nothing better to do I took both my daughters to. Surprisingly enough it wasn't Leyla, but my oldest that requested to enroll her in a gymnastics class. Leyla just confirmed. And because it was good bonding and gave us something to do in that rainy afternoon, I showed them videos on YouTube about gymnasts from my country. And because there is no better known gymnast then Nadia Comaneci, I showed them the first ever Perfect 10. Without thinking, Leyla announced that she is, not will be, but is, the second Nadia Comaneci.

What do you do when you adopt a New Age philosophy of personal choice and personal responsibility and your 5 year old child tells you that she will equate perfection? Hmmm... I explained to her that millions of girls at her age dreamed to achieve the same result in the last 40 years. I got a very decisive reply that she is the second Nadia. It is not often for my children to leave me speechless, but over the last 3 months it became a habit with my miss Leyla.

And so, all three of us went to the first gymnastics class. Which was good and fun for them. And I got the request of doing it every day.  Which was a bit too much for my taste- I thought that I have better things to do with my time and money- so we settled to three lessons a week. This number 3 seems to keep repeating in this post. Oh well, maybe is magic in that.

However, back to my story, we went back to gymnastics the following day. At the end of the one hour class, the coach comes to me and tells me that is a waste of time and money to have my daughter in that class. Hmm... Considering that it was a beginners class I wasn't to impressed. I mean, it was my time and my money. but before I got the chance to open my mouth he added that he wants her tested for a pre-levels class. Before asking what in the world that meant, I asked about which daughter are we talking. The little one. Ok... All good. Except Yazzy's (my other daughter) tantrum.

Six days later, after the class, Leyla had her first assessment. At the end of it, the coach told me that we are to start pre-levels and see how she handles it considering that Leyla just started gymnastics a week before. So we went from one hour class to two and a half hours. Not only that she managed the class easily and got to stay, but she wasn't even tired.

Like a good mother, knowing how hard it looked, the next morning I offered to give her a massage, thinking that her little muscles must be hurting. It got nicely declined with a very sure : "My muscles are not hurting." What could I say at that?

And so, for the next 9 weeks, twice a week, we went for Leyla's extra long class. Or so I though that it was extra long. She proved to me that she is focused, hard working and takes it seriously. And I found out that my baby is very strong for her age and quite flexible. That was from the coach. From my observations, Leyla knew what she wanted and went for it. Which was something her coach confirmed at the end of 9 weeks after I got to learn the difference between the varied classes.

Colors is beginners. Depending on the age and ability, from that is either Pre-levels, the first advanced class or Stages, or one step up from beginners. From Pre-levels is either Levels (that I kind of figured) or Elite (whatever that was). From Stages is Levels. Both Elite and Levels have numbers from 1 to 10. Except that Elite does not have 9. I think. I also found out that Levels is the national stream and Elite the international one.

Because I have been told that Leyla will be in Pre-levels for about one year, I decided to relax and get used to our new schedule.


Why am I writing this blog?

Part of it is like a personal diary. A place where I can record my impressions as the mother of a young gymnast. Another reason is because I would like her to have something to look at as years go by and she takes other steps.

Yet another reason is the fact that I have no idea what gymnastics is all about and I hope that by thinking of it I will figure it out.

And I guess I want to brag about my little angel. Yeah, I am proud of her. :)