Today I watched you get just a little nervous when those great big high school boys called you out to the tumbling mats. But you were brave and told them your name and tried really hard to follow their directions and stretch long and tall. You may have fallen over once. I may have laughed at you.
You’re a funny girl and sometimes I can’t help but laugh at you.
You really wanted to be like the big girls with their headstands into forward rolls and their cartwheels and their tumbling passes, but mostly you were just an awkward, hyperactive four-year-old in a yellow butterfly tank top, rolling with zest on the blue mat.
They took you on the balance beam– the great big one just like real gymnasts use– and I thought maybe you’d be nervous, but then I realized that it wasn’t that much different than walking across the back of the couch, and you’re a pro at that. You marched across that little piece of wood and then jumped off with abandon as though you’d been doing such things your whole life. I guess you have, kind of, or at least jumping off the steps for the last few months.
You’re not very good at waiting your turn or waiting in line or waiting for instructions. And I guess that shouldn’t surprise me, because you’re not good at waiting for your peanut butter and jelly sandwich or help with your buttons either. It’s hard to wait.
One of the leaders helped you do a handstand and you were so excited that you ran around the entire gym yelling “I DID GYMNASTICS” to anyone who would listen. Which was pretty much everyone, because you’re pretty loud. And I’m pretty sure that in your head you looked just like Shawn Johnson even though in reality you looked kind of like a crazy preschooler. Actually, you looked exactly like a crazy preschooler.
I don’t know if you’ll ever really be good at gymnastics, or if you’ll decide after awhile to do something else like play the tambourine or write historical novels or paint murals with your ears or find the cure for cancer or become a makeup artist or a vegan chef. It doesn’t matter. Whatever you do, jump in with both feet, and even if you don’t stick the landing, feel free to run around and yell to the world what you have accomplished.
Because you can do it, my girl. I believe in you.