So. My five year old little princess, Emma Grace had her first gymnastics competition yesterday.
She’d been practicing like crazy the past year for this. Multiple hours at the gym, private lessons with a coach that scared even me, and on the bars at home. Part of our house is actually set up just for her to practice her pull overs, kick outs, and other gymnastic stuff I have no clue about. Or could ever do…especially at only 5 years old. (I was actually in gymnastics when I was about her age, but just kinda flopped around like a fish out of water, until my parents wisely pulled me out.)
She looked like a miniature Olympic angel, all dressed up in her little uniform. Her hair done perfectly and red nail polish to match her leotard. She even held on to a little bit of her punk rock attitude by finishing off her look with a pair of earrings in the shape of puckered up lips. I’m not even ashamed to admit that I possibly had a tear in my eye, as she marched off with her team to start the competition. My little girl. I might’ve even used the fact that I’m a tall, heavily tattooed guy, to intimidate my way to the front of the crowd, so I could make sure she saw me if she looked over. I wouldn’t hurt a fly, but these other jokers didn’t need to know that.
My heart swelled to about 100 times it’s normal size as I watched my little girl perform on the bars, the balance beam, and do her little floor routine. That tear even crept back into my eye when she singled me out among all the family and friends that were there, for a smile and a little wave.
That’s what made it even harder for me not to want to punch the judges in the face when she wound up getting crappy scores. I mean, this little girl had been busting her ass practicing. She’s had blisters on her hands from the bars. She took a header off the high beam once that had me leaving work early and driving mach 12 to the gym to see if she was ok. She was. She wound up with a nice shiner, but she got right back up there (after about 14575 hugs and “are you OKs?”) and kicked that high beam’s ass.
Before I got myself any more worked up, I looked out there and saw her smiling at me again. I thought back to when I was a kid, in like second grade or something. I was playing T-Ball and for whatever reason, I couldn’t hit the damn ball off the tee to save my life. And yes, I know that the tee doesn’t move. I just apparently sucked. And my Dad, who was watching the game, made sure that I knew I sucked. All I remember was that when I finally hit that stupid ball, I could barely see. I was crying too hard. At my age now, I still remember that.
That being said, I made the decision, right then and there, that I would never do anything to make my kids feel bad about their performance. And that I’ll always support and encourage them no matter what. I always thought that would have been a given, but you just can’t be sure until you’re actually put in that position. I love my kids more than anything in this whole wide world, and I just feel that it’s alot easier to improve at something with practice, support, and encouragement, instead of tearing a kid down or letting them know you’re disappointed with their performance.
As soon as Emma finished up her floor routine and was waiting for the awards ceremony, I hightailed it to the nearest florist and got her a “You Did Great” balloon and a dozen roses.
When I got back, I had of course just missed her getting her (last place…grr) ribbons, but I was able to give my little gymnast her roses. And she immediately forgot all about the ribbons.
My little angel. I am so proud of her, and will always let her know that. She’ll always be in first place to me.
And those judges can go F themselves.