Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Gymnastics Girl

So look.  If you don't want to see or hear about four year olds jumping off of furniture and such, you should totally come back later.

A couple of months ago, Ellie told me she wanted to be a "gymnastics girl."  I didn't think much of it.  I nodded my head.  I might've mumbled, "Mmm hmm."  And then I went on my way.  After all, what in the world does a four year old really know about what she wants to do?  And why would I even consider allowing my four year old (who broke her arm at the tender age of 20 months old and required surgery) to do a sport that involves flipping and all kinds of acrobatics anyway?  Because I can easily use the words "gymnastics" and "broken bones" in the same sentence!

But it looks like we've been to one too many LSU gym meets, watched one too many on television when they aren't competing at home.  And this girl is captivated.  She pays closer attention and is way more into it than the older two are.  She ASKS to watch it.

And then this started happening.
She's created her own "bar" and "vault" using her oversized chair.  She lays out her pillows and blankets to create her own floor mat of sorts.  This first happened upstairs so I didn't know what was really going on until she came downstairs with all her stuff and said she had something to show me. 
She's created several "routines," complete with special landings and arms and hand motions - just like she sees the LSU gymnasts do.  Her signature move is to jump off of something and do a split of sorts in the air before landing.  I actually caught her jumping off of pawpaw's table today (and all of her grandparents are now about to pick up the phone), but I did quickly explain to her that she is not allowed to do that.
She's also working on her split.
This is part of her balance beam routine.
Speaking of balance beam . . . she begged her daddy for several days to build her some "bars" in the backyard.  What she's really referring to is uneven bars.  No.  No ma'am.  So I suggested we build a balance beam instead.  My idea was to lay a 2x6 or maybe even a 2x4 on the ground.  Bam.  Balance beam.  Done.  But her daddy had other ideas.
He seriously cut down a tree in our yard, shaved the top off of it to level it a bit and then nailed it in between two trees.  This thing is probably three feet or so off the ground.  Nice.
But she's eating it up!
And here's her signature move off the balance beam.
She talks about gymnastics all. the. time.  She's constantly asking to watch it on television.  And she's been begging to take gymnastics lessons.  I was asking the kids what they'd like to do on our school break next week, and Mason said he wants to go to the trampoline park.  That wasn't exactly what I was looking for, and I finally told him that I was hoping to do something we would ALL enjoy (because Area 51 is not my idea of fun).  Ellie was quick to tell me that she "needs to go to Area 51 so I can practice my gymnastics."  Really?  

So a couple of weeks ago I had a serious little conversation with her.  I explained to her that if she really wants to take gymnastics, we'll do that.  But it means she can't take dance anymore.  I don't know what I was expecting her reaction to be.  She loves dance.  She really does.  Except for the fact that she nearly refused to dance on stage at the recital last year, which totally shocked everybody!  I think I was expecting her to back down from the whole gymnastics thing.  But she didn't.  She jumped at the chance and told me she was ready to quit dance and take gymnastics.  She didn't hesitate a single second.  She would've hung her ballet and tap shoes up right then and not even looked back.  But then I explained that she absolutely has to finish what she started in dance this year, and she absolutely has to dance on that stage during the recital this year.  She agreed and asked when we could go shopping for her gymnastic clothes.  We had dance pictures last week.  Last year those didn't go so well with her.  But this year?  She was the perfect little angel and more than willing to participate in those dance pictures because that put her one step closer to gymnastics!  And something tells me the recital is going to go really well this year, too!

So I keep asking myself if she's really capable of making this decision.  I mean, have I mentioned that she really does love dance?  She's four.  Four years old.  Does she really understand and know what she's talking about?  She just can't do both.  But as much as she loves dance, and as much as I'd love to see her dance a bit longer, I think her heart is into gymnastics.  She's constantly flipping off the end table, flipping up onto the couch upside down into a handstand, practicing her cartwheels.  She begs to go outside to jump on the trampoline and play on her balance beam.  I caught her hanging and swinging off the top of the play set a few days ago.  Again, grandparents, there's no need to pick up the phone.

When I was six years old, my mama put me in ballet and tap lessons.  That really wasn't what I wanted to do.  I wanted to take piano lessons.  I mentioned that a time or two.  It took awhile, but I remember her having the same conversation with me.  I could take both dance and piano lessons.  She let me choose.  For me, it wasn't a choice at all.  Dance just wasn't my thing.  But I knew the piano was.  So I finally started taking lessons when I was eight years old, and I took lessons for ten years.  From the time I started walking, I couldn't walk by a piano without "playing" it.  MeMama's piano was in the den at her house.  I never walked by it without "playing" it.  As a matter of fact, this was brought up just a couple of weeks ago when I was home.  I remember that so vividly as a child, even a very small child.  And that's what I see in Ellie.

So.  It looks like her dream of becoming a "gymnastics girl" is about to come true.  Who knows . . . maybe we'll be watching her on the floor of the PMAC one day!

But y'all.  There's a little part of me that can't get this image out of my mind.  I just hope we don't one day go back here.

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