Friday, 24 May 2013

Work, work and more work

I honestly thought that something had ben lost in my little gymnast. Not the love and the passion, not the perseverance so necessary in this sport, but something of the drive, of the spark... My parents and friends told me to be patient, told me that she will find it again... I worried for her, about her...

It took her a while to find her footing in the new club, took her a while to start putting the effort into it again, to trust the coaches... But that certain spark that was Leyla, that spark that left trainers in awe of her determination, it never seemed to come back. And I wondered. I wondered if she still has it in her to go past the point of pain, to forget about everything else but what she is doing. She did not mention not going to training anymore and she seemed happy enough. But that one thing that at the beginning separated her from all the other little gymnasts, was gone, and I did wonder if she will ever get it back, or if the unhappiness at the old club just covered that flame.

Went to the State Championships and she did well. Very well. I did not really understand how hard she pushed herself until the following week wen she complained so much about being tired.

Because I had promised to myself to listen to her and to leave her career into her own little hands, I let her have a day off, thinking she will spend it playing around like every other normal kid. When she came to be and asked me to move a mattress in the lounge for her, I did it, thinking she will be playing at gymnastics for a bit. Six hours later every little muscle on her body trembled and she kept going on the same one skill. Time after time, hour after hour, another and another somersault. At some stage she was so angry with herself she was punching and kicking the mat. At another, she sat down crying saying she will never get the landing. At another stage, there was a ferocious determination. We argued, me saying that enough is enough, she screaming that it is her career and she will keep going until she gets it or can't move anymore. Sweat dripping, muscles shaking, she kept going, hour after hour.

Looking at her, part of me though that the sport had created a little monster. Another part of me felt like crying, seeing that insane determination back. After more then one year, the little gymnast that one had left coaches speechless with her determination was back with a vengeance.

When I gave her no choice and told her we are going out for dinner, the poor child could not even walk. And yet, when we came back home one hour later, she took her pants off, back in te leotard, and started again. With every jump, she lost height and power, and every time I told her that is enough, she ferociously answered that she will get it.

As a mother, I always knew that my children will but heads with me. As a mother, I am well aware that bedtime is at times a clash between me sending them to bed and them wanting to play some more. But I did not think that I will ever but heads with her because she wants to work more.

After she was safely tucked in bed, I cried with pride and respect. And when later still, I went to bed myself, she came and cuddled into me and announced me that she wats me to speak to the coach so she can start morning training as well. And then she asked me, for the first time, for a massage.

It took a while for her to find that spark again. But she did it and it left me proud and speechless.

Changing Clubs

I have to wonder what do I really want for my daughter. Not from her, but for her. As a gymnast, as a child. And the first thing that always comes to my mind is that I want her to be happy. Happy with herself, happy with what she is doing. Yes, I do want her to succeed, but I firstly want her to be happy. And lately she has not been happy. She still loves gymnastics as much as she did from the beginning, but she has been sad and unfulfilled.

My little one, is a quiet child. Not that she does not have things to say, because she does, and the things she says are well thought. But she rarely complains. And because I am not allowed to watch her at training, I had no idea what was going on. I could see that her eyes lost the sparkles that were so much her, but when I asked her, she said nothing. Until one day, about a month ago when I tried to rush her to get ready for her training session and she just exploded. Needless to say, it left me speechless. Not so much her anger, which she was entitled to feel, but the bitterness and the complete loss of confidence that came up.

Leyla was always a very confident child. In a very quiet way. But a child that could not conceive the fact that there might be things that she might not be able to do if she really tried. She was always a very quick learner as well. Not that she ever showed off the things she learned, but when the opportunity was there, she would express her educated opinions in a confident manner. So it came as a shock to me when she screamed that she is no good. Once that she calmed down enough, she was able to explain to me that the coach was putting her down and ignoring her between put downs.

Leaving aside the insane number of hours she spends in the gym and I spend waiting, leaving aside the crazy amount of money I spend to have her in the international program, forgetting about talent and determination, at the end of the day we are talking about a not yet seven year old child that is entitled to be treated with care and respect. She wants to be a champion, which considering all the put downs was never going to happen. I, on the other hand, want a happy, healthy child. And she stopped being so.

As a parent, it leaves me with two choices. One of them is forgetting about it all and pull her out of gymnastics completely, giving her the chance to just be a child. A valid choice all considered, except that we are talking about a child that spends her lunch break teaching her school friends gymnastics, a child that does cartwheels with he school bag on her back, a child that lives and dreams gymnastics. Or we can change clubs. Go further away, through insane traffic...

I left the choie to her, because it is her life in the game, not mine. She chose to look around, see how other clubs work... She ended up choosing a small club, with a tiny international program... And because I want her to be happy, that is the club we are going to.