Ebb and Flow

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 29, 1999

By Deborah Corrao / L’Observateur / March 29, 1999

I know, in most instances, it’s not nice to brag – but indulge me just once.

My granddaughter, Carley, participated in her first gymnastics meet a week ago.

While she has spent endless hours preparing her skills and routine for the event, I was not sure how she would react to actual competition. After all,she’s only seven.

Because Carley had not yet had the opportunity to participate in a competition of this nature, I was wondering how it would all pan out – whether it would cause her too much stress or whether she would not treat it as seriously as she should, or whether she might, indeed, find her place in the spotlight.

It’s a question we, as parents or grandparents, have to ask. Are ourchildren participating in activities because they want to or because it satisfies something in us? I had been beginning to wonder if perhaps I was forcing this child to do something she might not really enjoy. And Iknew that her first competition would answer that question.

I couldn’t sleep at all the night before the meet and was on pins and needles on the ride to Denham Springs where the meet was held.

When we arrived at the Denham Springs High School gym, it seemed that she began to focus more on the task ahead than I had ever seen her do in training. Instead of retreating to be with the family, she chose to remainwith the rest of her teammates.

I watched her warm up with her partner. During warm-ups she fellseveral times on the most critical of her skills. The skill comes ratherearly in the routine and I knew that a failure to complete it would not only cause her to get a deduction but had the possibility of throwing her off for the rest of the routine.

When it was finally her turn to perform, I could barely stand to watch.

I prayed for Carley and her partner. I crossed my fingers, my toes andeverything else I could cross. They began their routine.And, then, it seems, something took over.

She and her partner became one as they performed their dance and skills, perfectly synchronized, anticipating each other’s movements.

When it came time to perform the skill I was most worried about, I just held my breath. All of a sudden she was there-standing straight atop herpartner’s shoulders.

I have to admit I watched the remainder of the routine through tear-filled eyes. It was such a sense of relief to be able to finally see her performthe skills she had spent hours and hours perfecting.

When they came back to the stands, I let her have her time with her teammates before going to congratulate her. I told her that I cried. Sheconfessed that she had been crying too.

I asked if she cried because she was nervous.

“No,” she replied. “I was just happy to be out there.”It was a telling moment.

Circumstances may change with time but, for now, what we’re doing feels right.

Deborah Corrao is a reporter for L’Observateur

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