The Olympic event that never failed to capture and hold my children’s attention this summer was gymnastics. My 7 and 8-year-olds didn’t watch many other events, but when this was on, they’d drop whatever they were doing and come running to watch. This got me thinking maybe this was the sport for them. Both of my kids have tried out several sports and they didn’t seem to like anything.
“Do you guys want check out this place?” I asked one day. Even though I’d suggested it, I didn’t feel much better about trying something else. When we walked into The Little Gym, the last gymnastics class of the day was wrapping up. A bubbly young woman invited us to watch the end of the session. As my children pressed their faces to the glass, the spark I saw in their eyes let me know making the extra stop had paid off and so would the additional money I’d have shell out to get them registered.
Still, I was hesitant. What’s that about? I asked myself. The kids were excited and the facility was able to accommodate my schedule. My hesitancy was about enrolling Levi in gymnastics.
Up until I remarried two years ago, Levi lived in an all female world. That and the fact that Liv is older and has the more dominant personality have caused him to play with and enjoy many things that are traditionally considered “for girls”. Like Littlest Pet Shop animals, tea parties and playing with Liv’s doll house. Every night he gently tucks his stuffed animals in. I’m OK with that. He’s a natural nurturer and will make an amazing father one day. But he also loves most “boy” things. Except for sports. Because of this, at times he’s struggled fitting in with boys who do. Would enrolling him in gymnastics contribute further to this and even make him a target for bullying?
Gymnastics plays to all of my uniquely gifted boy’s strengths: he is strong, agile and fearless. It’s the natural choice for him. This was apparent the night of his trial class as other moms watched him leap effortlessly from the high bar to the low bar. As far as bullying goes, if he turns out to be as good at gymnastics as I think he can be, instead of bullying him, other guys would probably be amazed at his talent and give him respect.
A few days earlier, when I’d voiced my concerns to Levi’s teacher, a petite, gutsy woman named Charlee, she told me, “Let him do gymnastics. Let him own it.” Suddenly, I knew he would. Channeling Charlee, I signed him up. Who knows, maybe someday a little boy who doesn’t quite fit the gender mold will watch Levi and be inspired to pursue gymnastics too.