For the past 24hrs, my mind has been flipping over and over.
You see, both of my boys are involved in gymnastics. My younger son has been taking gymnastics since he was 2 years old. My older, has done it off and on for the past 4 years. My younger boy is a natural. I noticed it when I took him to our first daddy and me gym class when he was two. My older son, I think he likes the sport, but he has to work harder at it. He’s not as strong physically and he’s not as coordinated. What is worrisome is that my older understands more of what it means to stick with it. He tries and tries until he gets it. My younger son, because it came to him so quickly, doesn’t understand what it means to have to work hard to get something. For him, its just fun and play. He has no work ethic.
At any rate, gymnastics and school fill our week. They have multiple lessons and naturally, their lessons aren’t at the same time. Our only days off are Thursday and Sunday! While we try to not focus on gymnastics at home, I do see them practicing their splits and handstands etc. When they play in the back yard I do see them practicing their flips and such…so its just a part of their lives.
Last night we found out that next week, my youngest son will be assessed to determine if he can move up to a more advanced team. Right now, he is on the pre-competitive team. He practices about 6 hrs per week. The goal is for them to get the fundamentals, to build their strength and to start some elementary moves on all the equipment. If he is able to demonstrate that he is strong enough and has mastered the moves, he will go to the competitive team.
The competitive team practices a total of 16hrs per week. They continue to build strength, they work on more advanced moves, and with time he will be able to enter competitions. They are very clear that one should not join this team if they are not interested in being an all-around competitive gymnast. And this is where I am torn…
He is 6…is he able to decide whether he wants to be a competitive gymnast? As his dad, a part of me wants him to advance. If he is good enough, he should go for it. My logic with everything is that you do it to get better. You push yourself to be the best you can be…and it will work itself out. Further, why invest the money in the lessons if you aren’t going to see just how far you can go.
Another part of me doesn’t want him to progress because I feel like 16hrs a week of practice is a lot! Do I want him to start comparing himself to the others, to start picking out the things he doesn’t do well or needs to improve upon, etc. We also heard that another child (he’s just four) who has already advanced, is struggling with the number of hours of practice each week. He’s always tired we heard his mother say. His dad pushes him to come…saying they are paying a lot for him to be on the team and so he doesn’t have a choice. Don’t get me wrong…at 4…the boys stands out. Something is there…but in my mind…he’s just 4…and my son is just 6 and 16hrs of practice per week sounds like a lot!
I also asked my son what he wanted. I asked him whether he still liked gymnastics and whether he still wanted to do it. He says he does. I asked him whether he wanted to be assessed and whether he thought he was good enough to advance. He says he thinks he’s good enough to do it. I finally asked whether he wanted me to come watch him be assessed and to cheer for him and he told me no! He says I make him nervous because he knows I am watching him. So I won’t go.
I also think about the cost associated with it and how I don’t want to make the investment only for him to come back and say its too hard or he’s too tired or whatever (remember, his work ethic concerns me) but then I think maybe seeing the other boys doing great things will encourage him and motivate him.
I just don’t know. Maybe I won’t have to decide…maybe he won’t do well enough and can stay in the pre-competitive team. I want him to do well enough to advance…but does he really understand what going to school and then practicing each day for a total of 16hrs per week means?
Should I decide for him…or rather, should I decide what I think is best for him?