Saturday, 28 January 2012

Gymnastics Prodigy?

Before I start this story, you need a bit of background to it.  Before Jaimee was diagnosed with Hip 
Dysplasia, she loved doing tumbling tots (a preschool gymnastics class) every week.  At 3, this was the highlight of her week, and she was great at it - she balanced on the beam without looking at her feet, arms held out perfectly.  She hung upside down on the rings for ages, straight as a pencil.  She jumped off the high squabs with ease (we were all amazed that her hips could withstand all this without pain after we found out they were completely out of their sockets!), and we were all gutted when she had to stop for her surgery, 5 months in full body cast and then her long recovery road.  

In February last year, Jaimee was given the nod by her surgeon to continue life as normal.  Her hips were healing so well, he felt confident to leave her next check up until 2013.  YAY!  Jaimee had been itching to get back to gymnastics, so we popped her name on the (loooonnngggg) waiting list and waited.   

Today we finally were asked to come along to an open day at Hastings Gymnastics Club so that the coaches could get to see her in action and she could have a go.  Jaimee, Kate and I were very excited about this..I never did any extra-curricula activity (besides swimming lessons) as a child/youth.   Well, I did have one short horrid ballet experience at 5, resulting in mum pulling me out  because the teacher was horrible and yelled at me.  As I got older, books kept me happy enough as well as looking after all the little kids in my neighbourhood!

Anyway, back to Jaimee.  She loved it, and had a go at everything.  I ran into a mum there with her daughter that I used to teach as a baby, and was able to ask her lots of questions, as they had been doing gymnastics for a year already.  Her daughter had been invited to do competitions, and I asked about what this involved.  "It's pretty intense - 2 hours once or twice a week, sometimes up to 4 times a week during comp session"  My eyebrow shot up, and I timidly asked about the expense "Yeah, its kind of expensive, there are fees for the term plus the competition entry fees, the costumes, the trips to Gisborne....".  Ok, well that is that.  My daughter will not be doing competitive gymnastics.  She can still get badges and progress in the 'kiwi gym' class, that will be enough for her.  I never did any sports or anything, and I turned out OK.  She doesn't need all that stuff.  I guess I have no prior knowledge to go on in this area, and one of the reasons that I am nervous about Kate wanting to do  dance when she turns 5  is because I know that there are intense practices and costumes at production time.  SO not excited about this idea of so much practice, for goodness sake, let kids be kids!

About 5 minutes after this conversation, one of the coaches walked over to me after watching Jaimee on the beam.  "Ok, so I think your daughter has a real natural gymnastics skill, we could really make something of her.  I need the head coach to look at her, but I think we may have something here" he said with a very serious face.  Okay.  All previous thoughts were reduced to muck as I listened to this coach tell me how talented my daughter was.  There is nothing so wonderful for a parent as having other adults see the potential in your child.  It almost totally squashed my hesitations with one bit of praise.  How pathetic is that?!

Although every ounce of my proud-mother-state now wanted to agree with him to enroll her for 'pre-competition' classes right away (2 hours instead of the 1 hour, more skill focused class), I swallowed my desire to scream "YES, sign her up for the Olympics right now" and tried to be sensible.  I explained that she has limited hip rotation, that I have just quit one of my jobs and that I was not sure we wanted to do competitive gym just yet.

The head coach works with Jaimee
Soon after, I noticed the coach  in conference with another coach as they watched Jaimee.    He introduced me to the head coach, who was very impressed with Jaimee's natural movement on the beam and her effortless upper body strength.  I explained that she after 5 months in a full body cast, she had no choice but to learn to use her arms a lot!  After more handstands, cartwheels, somersaults, bar and beam work (and a lot more talk about my hesitations about competitions), we agreed that for now the best thing would be to start her off in a normal kiwi gym class to stretch out her hip muscles and see how she copes, but that the coaches would keep an eye on her with an intention to move her to pre-comp classes.   The kiwi gym will be awesome, because they can earn badges and progress that way so I don't think that she needs to do competitive gym to feel like she is achieving.

But I admit, as a parent, it was a bit of a pride buzz to see the coaches give Jaimee so much attention and get excited about working with her!   We all like to think our children have skill somewhere, but it is so fun to hear other adult (and those who don't even know her) agree with you for a change! So I decided we can just take it one step at a time and see what happens, and as long as Jaimee is having fun it is all good. Yes, I know, I am so weak!

Foam pit fun with Seth and Ella
They did ask if there was anything that the coaches weren't allowed to push Jaimee to do, but I assured them that as long as it didn't hurt her, stretching her muscles would be good for her.  They have assured me that pre-comp classes doesn't mean competitions straight away (my mind was whirling with dollar signs at this point) and that Jaimee really had a very natural ability (well duh) and that she seemed naturally competitive by nature.  Hmm, I don't know about that one...I did warn them that if by competitive, they mean "cries-and-gives-up-if-she-can't-do-it-perfect-the-first-time", then yep, that is Jaimee!

Of course, at the end of the morning, the most fun that the kids had was getting swallowed up by the foam cubes in the foam pit that surrounds the tramp! They loved jumping in, lots of giggles with their friends Seth and Ella were had in the pit!  I had to pull Jaimee out at one point, she got stuck up to her armpits and couldn't get out.  Hehehe.  Kids will be kids!

It was so much fun, Anne-Marie (Ella's mum) and I both agreed that we secretly wished we could enroll and relive our childhood gymnastic dreams!


  1. Go Jaimee gymnastics star in the making woohoo!!!! Sorry we didn't come join you at the opening day it was a bit chaotic here this morning. I've decided to try Brianna at dancing at this stage she is pretty excited about going & lessons are on a Saturday morning which of course makes it easier for me to take her!!! She has her first lesson before Kate's party!!! Have they bumped Jaimee up the waiting list then????

  2. They are starting a new class on Wed after school for all the little girls who have been on the waiting list, so yep she gets a spot finally! she will be in a class with Ella and probably with her friend Caity too which is awesome. If she moves to do the pre-comp classes, thats on a different day though, and twice as long a class.

  3. That's cool, hope she enjoys it (I'm sure she will)!!!

  4. Wow is just the simple word that may explain that how much I liked it. It was nicely stuffed with the material I was looking for. It is great to be here though by chance.