Elise and Gymnastics

This week I am practicing the art of economy in cooking. In other words, I’m trying to figure out how to use what I have in my freezer and refrigerator before I go buy more food. This is mainly because I’ve already spent all my allotted grocery money until the next paycheck. I’m sure I could write some very interesting food posts, but in case some of you are getting bored with those, I thought I better do a family post today.

This one is about Elise, because I’d like to brag about her a bit today. Funny how our children’s accomplishments are just as exciting to us parents as our own.

As a recap, after several years of dance (mainly ballet) Elise started gymnastics at the end of January, just before turning 8 years old. Since she was almost 8, she was put in the 8 and up beginner class. She thrived in the class and seemed to have found something she was designed to do. Her small petite frame has been an asset, and her determination to learn has surprised even me. I like how her class is set up so that the teachers rely quite a bit on the student’s own initiative to improve. After 3 months in the beginner class, Elise could do all the required moves to graduate into the intermediate class. That was one month ago.

My grandparents were here for Elise’s first intermediate class, and got these pictures of her during the warmup stretching. I don’t remember Elise ever getting this limber in ballet, I think this has happened in the 4 months she’s been doing gymnastics. I could tell this new class was difficult for her, but you won’t ever hear her admit it. She views gymnastics as she does anything else she enjoys. As long as she CAN do it, it isn’t hard. Hard things are things you can’t do or don’t like to do. But even though she wouldn’t admit it, that class was difficult for her. After she finished, I was trying to encourage her by explaining all the things she could practice at home even without equipment so she could speed up the process. She burst into tears. One of the moves they had her do (bridge walk, which is basically walking backwards on your hands and feet while bent over backwards) had given her a headache, and that had stuck with her the rest of the practice. I would have never known by watching her though, she never gave up, and kept doing everything her teachers asked her to do. She hardly ever hesitates, but jumps right into each new thing, whether it be a backflip or a dismount off the low beam.

We spent some time talking that first night, and Elise was very quickly encouraged again. She never once said she didn’t want to go back, but I was thankful to see the joy return to her eyes when I explained how even at her age she could learn all the things she wanted to learn, it would just take some time. With her goals in reach again, she attacked the next class without hesitation, even the bridge walk.

Yesterday was just her 3rd class in intermediate. I love to watch her, but it is harder now, as instead of standing out in the beginner class, she is obviously one of the beginners in the intermediate class. Plus her small size means she sometimes has to ask to have a higher mat brought up for her to be able to do the bar exercises. But she is working hard, and I’m proud of her. After class last week, I went down from the observation balcony to meet her, and found that she was still on the mat with a coach. The coach was asking her to do several things for her, including all the stuff she had to do just to move up to the class. I assumed they were checking that she really should be in that class, and was worried they’d tell me she had been moved too soon and would have to be moved back down. I shouldn’t have been worried. What they were in fact doing was evaluating her for pre-team, which is the precursor to the competition team they have. She had somehow stood out enough in class that she’d caught a coach’s eye. The coach explained the requirements (3 more hours of gymnastics a week), and that in the extra classes they’d work more to Elise’s strengths, letting her develop the skills she is most naturally skilled at. The coach was impressed with Elise’s petiteness and her natural ability and felt that she had great potential. We’re going to hopefully try out one of these new classes tomorrow to make sure it is a good fit, but Elise is thrilled and not at all worried about the extra work. I’m thrilled too, and as long as the harder work doesn’t make Elise suddenly realize how difficult all this really is, I think it will be good for her. I am realizing though that I am beginning a new stage, one in which I drive my children around to different events. I guess I shall have to start calling myself a “gymnastics mom.”

3 thoughts on “Elise and Gymnastics

  1. That’s wonderful! I’m not surprised her small frame is an asset!:) I hope this makes her feel more confident about her small size.:) Of course, she’s a natural, she does has a slightly famous relative in the gymnastics world!


  2. Read story. Very interesting.
    Didn’t realize how much is involved in what she’s doing.

    She looks very professional in her pictures.

    I’ll be in Florida for another week.

    Yesterday we went to a Military Museum and rode in an Army tank, complete with helments, and also saw a movie about Desert Storm in a simulator. Which let us feel like we were taking off from a carrier in the middle of the ocean. Fortunately, we also landed back on the carrier. We helped defeat some enemies along the way.

    Send us an Email while Grandma Lein is here.

    Love, Grandma & Granny Ethel


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