I have two boys, both of whom have been involved in competitive sports in one version or another. We've done highly competitive soccer, chill-out soccer, less stressful teeball, a mixed bag of basketball, pretty-laidback golf, and of course the All Encompassing Life of Gymnastics. I've witnessed parents who are chill, and those who scream until they are red in the face because their Little Precious didn't do what he was supposed to do (and this mistake at age 5 will surely mean the college scholarship will not come.) I've seen coaches who get Very Angry, and those who have just a subtle look of disappointment. (And, there are those amazing coaches who maintain a smile no matter what.)
Our family accompanied my son to Gym Camp. It was in a peaceful location and I adored the opportunity to "experience nature" in ways that our backyard doesn't reach. (I thought I saw a moose and freaked out; it was a couple of elk.) Plus, since gymnastics is my crack, I loved being in the gym for the majority of the day, and appreciated being surrounded by young gymnasts (and some pretty impressive clinicians) as I ate my meals in the mess hall. (This was a situation where if someone wore an Olympic jacket, it was because they actually earned it. I tried not to freak out when Famous People sat near me.)
Since I spent so much time in the actual gym, I got to talk to fellow Gym Parents. Thankfully, most were really chill. They are great folks who want their kids to succeed, but they aren't snobby about their highly-talented kids. I was especially impressed with the father of two gymnasts who hail from a very competitive team. This dad was the chaperone for my son's cabin, and complimented me on my son's ability to make friends, his independence, and so on. Meanwhile, I was thinking, "OMG, this is the dad of two incredible gymnasts and he's complimenting me on my son? Nice folks, truly.
There was this one lady who seemed really cool. She and I talked a bit, and she was really friendly. But then suddenly she'd scream across the gym at her son before immediately putting on a smile and resuming our conversation. This little dude was exceptionally good, and yet he wasn't good enough for his mom yet. The dude was hurting. The dude was hungry. The dude wanted a break. BUT NO! "You aren't working hard enough! Do that again! Do it right this time!" She'd turn back to me, "They like to slack off. But that won't work."
But she also had passionate concern for the boys when they really were hurting: when she saw a guy from her gym take a nasty fall, she subtly asked the guy if perhaps he might want to chill out for awhile. I was impressed with how she recognized that a teenager wouldn't want his pride hurt, and so she didn't scream for him, but instead asked another gymnast to fetch him so she could talk to him less conspicuously.
I loved watching the high caliber of gymnastics, and appreciated the different coaching styles of the clinicians. No matter how excellent a coach, having another perspective is so valuable. I just soaked in the environment.
Most of the time I watched the boys, but there were some girls working out as well. I'd watch them from time to time, enjoying their athleticism. And then I noticed one of the girls had an impressive prosthetic arm.
I was stunned. I wouldn't have supposed that gymnastics would be possible for someone with one arm, especially the bars. This young girl had two different prosthesis for gym: one with a hook (for bars) and another with a circular disk on the end (appropriate for floor, vault, and beam.) I was wondering how the bar-arm stayed on when she was swinging. How could it possibly maintain its position on her upper arm against the tremendous force used when working bars? I itched to ask, and yet I'm sure she gets the question all the time, and I sure didn't want to be one of those annoyingly curious people... even though I was annoyingly curious.
I was amazed at how she did cartwheels and back-walkovers (and even a spotted back-handspring!) on the high beam. It is scary enough to do tricks like that with two arms, and yet with both skills she had to completely trust her prosthesis to keep her on the beam. Amazing!
It is cliche, but I found it interesting to think of the way we pressure our kids to do well, and how it is tough to persevere sometimes. And yet, if someone with one-arm can do it, oh yeah, so can you! (But I'm not going to yell that to my son across the gym...)