Saturday, April 16, 2016

For the Love of Tumbling

A little over 2 years ago I began thinking about putting Claire in some sort of activity. She had just "graduated" speech therapy and started school one day a week, but was still painfully shy in public. Even at church with people she had known since birth rarely heard her talk. She usually hid behind me and then go home sad because she really wanted to play after all. I could already see school was helping her some, but knew summer was approaching and I didn't want to loose any progress we had made. 

When I was 3 my parents put me in dance lessons. I was shy just like Claire and Mom was hoping to bring me out of my shell a little. I fell in love with it and it helped me to be more confident in many areas. Unfortunately as I got older it got more expensive and on top of it being a 45 minute drive to the studio (we lived in the country) they wanted me to compete more and farther away. It was just too much with 2 kids in school and sadly I had to quit. Being that I was a dancer and loved it my first plan was to enroll Claire in dance. She shook her booty all the time at home and I thought it might be good for her. When I mentioned dance to her she never seemed overly excited, but not opposed. In Jr High and High School I was a cheerleader and loved it. I never learned to tumble past a cartwheel, but being from a small town tumbling wasn't required to cheer. Tumbling was always something I wished I had done. As I was researching various options for Claire a Groupon for a tumbling/cheer class came up. Being the deal finder I am was intrigued by the amazing price. It was 16 weeks of classes for less than $50! I figured even if she decided she didn't like it at least I wasn't out a registration fee and a whole lot of money and it covered all summer. Still I wanted to give Claire a choice. Once I mentioned learning to flip she was sold. 

The first night of practice rolled around and I was so nervous. I really didn't even think she would walk through doors onto the floor without me and by some chance that she actually would go I knew there would be tears. Suddenly the coach came out to gather Claire's group. She had a tight hold of my hand. We had talked quite a bit how it would work and she would have to go without me, but I would be right in the other side watching her. Shockingly she let go of my hand and right as she was about to cross the doorway she started to turn back to me. Just then a young coach grabbed her hand and off she went with no tears! After she went in I just knew she wouldn't participate. She would probably just stand there and look at everyone like they were crazy. To my amazement she not only participated and actually tried, but I saw something in her eyes I had never seen before. She was focused and the eagerness to learn these skills was written all over her face. Looking back I think to myself "she was only 3, she was just a baby, why was I so worried she would stay shy forever"? I think having 2 kids has mellowed me some in that respect. However, I am beyond happy with my decision to enroll her in something when I did. 

As the weeks went by so did her excitement to go to class every week. Before I knew it she was practicing at home. Then working on her skills consumed her. She would spend hours trying to figure out stuff even just a basic cartwheel. Then get mad when I told her it was time for bath and bed because she wasn't done yet. She was 3! At the time this didn't really occur to me how young she really was to understand practice and to apply what her coaches were telling her at home by herself. Now that Luke is 3 I can't imagine him doing something like that. To me he is still such a baby. When Claire was 3 Luke was barely 1 and she seemed so much older and more mature to me than she actually was. Don't get me wrong Claire has always been quite mature for her age, but still she was a baby. 

Here she was the night of her very first tumbling practice. 

The class we initially enrolled her in was 45 minutes of tumbling followed by 30 minutes of cheer. After she participated in tumbling I was still convinced there is no way she would stand there and copy cheer motions. Ha! Little girl proved me wrong again. Not only did she try and do motions she eagerly wanted to go up in the air! 

The people and coaches as the original place she started at were so sweet with her. They were a startup business though and were going through a lot of growing pains. The coaches were a little less experienced than I would have liked and the class because of the Groupon had grown to an enormous size. As the weeks wrapped up on the Groupon the gym staff was persuading us to join as a non groupon regular in a smaller class. Offering to waive the first year registration fee. Worth considering however since this was clearly something Claire loved I wanted to explore other options as well and was hoping for a morning class. Little Kids just focus better in the mornings. I already knew where I wanted her to trial a class at. They are known for their strong tumbling program and Allstar program, the gym location is literally out the back out of our neighborhood, and they offered morning classes for preschoolers. 10 minutes into her trial class at Woodlands Elite and I knew without a doubt this was the place for her. The coaches, teaching techniques, and staff sold me immediately. Every coach she has come encountered with has treated her and even me as a parent with the same respect and given encouragement the same as their top athletes. It's amazing to be at a place and know they actually care about your kid and of course as a result Claire would live at the gym if we let her. Last year when she broke her wrist the 7 weeks she couldn't tumble were torture on all of us! Literally the first evening she had her full cast on she was bridging one armed and then I busted her right as she was attempting a 1 armed back walkover. Since then she has mastered a one armed cartwheel, one armed back walkover, and one armed front walkover. I'm fairly certain this is her "insurance" should she ever break an arm again she can still tumble haha. 
I am still amazed at how quickly she progressed after we made the switch. If her love for it could have grown anymore it certainly did. We joke she doesn't need any toys. One baby doll and tumbling mats are all she needs. She rarely plays with toys and if she does she is coaching her baby dolls in tumbling or cheer. It's amazing as a parent to watch your child truly love to do something. I never ever dreamed at 3 she would find her passion. I thought we would try a bunch of activities and she would eventually choose one. Now if I mention trying something else I get told "I do tumbling and cheer Mom"! I know she is only 5 and she may one day decide to try something else, it's just hard to imagine that with the passion she has now. It's also been so awesome to watch her become more and more confident. She was painfully shy when she began. Her coaches still joke how when she first started they would have to check and make sure Claire was still with them because she never said anything. Now she bursts through the doors onto the floor looking for her favorite coaches to tell them about her day, bring them a picture, give them a hug etc. She talks to girls in her classes instead of staring at them if they ask her something. I know she will never be the most outgoing kid and I am totally ok with that now that she has confidence to enjoy herself in new situations and speak up for herself. Tumbling and her coaches have given her that and that's probably what I am most thankful for. She has also learned very early the importance of hard work and dedication. She has seen first hand practicing pays off. She has also learned lately somethings don't come as easily as others. As she is advancing in skills she is learning more than half of the skill is mental. She has had some self doubt on skills lately, skills she has done many times, she is struggling with. Sometimes I think she wants to progress so badly she puts pressure on herself without realizing it. 
Yes even her Daddy sees how much she enjoys it. If you know her Daddy then you know he is not only very practical, but also very skeptical. Not in a bad way. He balances my tendency to get overly excited. We work well that way. However for a long time to him it was just something she attended every week and seemed to like. Even though he still thinks it costs too much clearly based on the above picture he shares her love of it with her. She has been begging to join All-Stars. We kept telling her we wanted to wait another year before she started that. Knowing it would be more of a time commitment,knowing she would be starting kindergarten and not wanting to overwhelm her and knowing the financial commitment waiting another year just made sense. Well let's just say that did not go over well with a certain 5 year old who has been dying to cheer. We aren't parents that give in because our kid is upset. We say no and it goes. When we told Claire she would have to wait her very serious response was "I am tall and I can drive myself to practice". We played along and Eric said "Claire, you don't have a car". Again she had an answer "I will drive my red truck". Eric then explained it costs a lot of money and wanted to know how she intended to pay for it. She quickly answered "my piggy bank". She wasn't being sarcastic or rude or demanding during the conversation. She was respectful and mature in her answers. Even though they were obviously the answers of a 5 year old we could tell this was something she had thought about. After that we decided to consider again and pray about it. While we are both nervous about it being too much for her we talked to her again and explained what a commitment means and it may mean missing birthday parties or other stuff because she has practices or competitions she clearly stated she understood. We also discussed the money side of it too with her. Explaining that it cost more than she had in her piggy bank and that it would mean being told no to a lot more things she wants. Even as simple as going out for ice cream or wanting a new shirt. Not to be mean to her, but that it would be a stretch to afford and we would have to rearrange some spending. She did her tryout last week and will find out in a few weeks which team she is on. She is so excited to start! 

When I really stop to think everything she has learned in 2 years it's quite amazing. Not just the sport itself, but life skills as well. It is shaping her to be a strong and confident girl. Teaching her the value of hardwork, to ask questions when she needs to (she used to not even ask a question because she was scared) and soon she will learn the value of teamwork and the importance of encouraging others. I've struggled a bit lately since Luke is now the same age Claire was when she started. I stress all the time about him feeling left out because we spend so much time with focusing on Claire's passion. He doesn't seem to mind and rolls with it. We recently enrolled him in swim lessons to give him an activity he would maybe enjoy. He knows his to swim, but needed to learn floating and coming up for air. I'm quickly learning once again how different each child is. He enjoys swimming, but not being told what to do. He is ok not doing anything right now. He doesn't feel mistreated in anyway. He isn't quite as mature in the paying attention and doing what a coach tells you realm. I know 6 months to a year from now he may be completely different and thrive in something, but for the sake of just trying to be equal amongst the kids this just isnt his time yet and he is ok with that. He is happy if I take him to the park and run around awhile. I know his day will come and I'm finally ok with that.