Bunny has been doing acrobatic gymnastics for six and a half years and tumbling for one and a half years, trying to reach her gymnastic dreams. She started when she was just 5 years old in one of the recreational classes, like my twins are in now. She started in the Blue group, which at the time, was the youngest group of gymnasts. She did two gymnastics badges per year and gradually moved up to the green group and then to the general gym group. From there she moved onto the development squad, where they prepare for competitions. Then a few years ago she got moved to the C Squad, where they first start doing competitions. This really lit her fire and her ambition grew.
Bunny has never had any false illusion of grandeur. She knows she’s not going to be an Olympian. Gymnastics is not going to be her career. Gymnastics has never come naturally to her. She’s not naturally flexible, she’s fearful when it comes to tumbling and her balance has not always been great. She’s clumsy, skinny and has big feet. But it’s never put her off. It’s meant she’s had to work ten times harder than the gymnasts who have an innate natural talent. It’s taken her much longer than most gymnasts to move up through the classes. But it’s never clouded her passion or her determination. Her end goal has always been the same. Bunny’s gymnastic dreams are to get to the A Squad and compete in national and maybe even international competitions. The top gymnasts at her gym get to compete at Disneyland in Paris and that is Bunny’s ultimate gymnastic dream. She won’t get there this year… but maybe one day!
Last month, we had a bit of a setback.
Things weren’t going great for Bunny. She has some issues at school. Friendship issues, bullying issues, drama over the drama production, peer pressure, detentions and few phone calls home. She has some personal issues too (the pre-teen hormones are well and truly kicking in) and she was feeling vulnerable. She found out that her gym partnership had been split and her partner was moving up and she wasn’t. Not only that, but her partner was skipping out B Squad and going straight to A Squad. Disappointment isn’t a strong enough word. Bunny was devastated. We had tears and angst. We had, wanting to quit and throw the last 6 years training away. She didn’t want to do gymnastics without her partner and she didn’t want to get left behind again (we’ve been through this before with a previous partner). She felt like she would never be good enough. We had a very sad little girl indeed. And I’m not ashamed to admit, I was heartbroken too. I cried over it myself. It’s horrible seeing one of your children feel so low and so upset, knowing there’s nothing you can do to make it better.
But after the dust had settled, I assured her she just needs to keep working hard and doing her best and prove to her coaches that she’s good enough to move up too. I said if she genuinely wanted to quit, she could, but that she needed to think it through and not make a rash decision. Gymnastics is her passion and I knew she didn’t want to leave really. This was just a setback.
And just two weeks later, on a random Sunday afternoon, a message pinged into my inbox.
Bunny was being offered a trial. Not for B Squad, but for A Squad. And not only for A Squad, but WITH her previous partner who had just moved up!
I didn’t want her to get her hopes up too high. It was just a trial. There were no guarantees. But she was so excited she barely slept. And all day at school she couldn’t take her mind off the trial. She kept messaging me. She even asked if I could pick her up from school early so she could rest her legs for a bit and then do some stretches before the trial. I said no of course. School is important too.
Eventually the time came to take her to gym. She was a nervous, excited, uncertain ball of panic! We arrived early and she ran straight to her partner to tell her she had a trial. I stayed. I usually drop her off and pick her up, but I stayed the full two and a half hours. I chatted to some other mums to pass the time. I did a bit of work. And I watched through the window at the times when I thought it wouldn’t distract her too much.
The warm-ups were long and pretty hardcore. She was put into her new trio (with her old partner plus a top) and in that one session they mastered a new move, that Bunny had never even attempted before. Holding their top in straddle, high above their heads, I watched as they repeated the move again and again. I know that as a mum, these kind of moves look super impressive, but to coaches and judges they can look sloppy. And all I could do was hope that the coach in charge was impressed enough to let her move up.
At last the wait was over. I was called into the gym and the answer I got, was just one simple word.
And that was it. The culmination of six and a half years of training. All that hard work rewarded with her end goal. She is finally where she has always wanted to be. And yet this is also just the beginning. This is where the hard work starts. Training will change from five and a half hours per week, to ten and a half hours per week. Fees will go up. Difficulty and precision will go up. Competitions will be more fierce and more important. Those gymnastic dreams are closer than ever. And I’ve never seen her look so happy and so proud of herself. And of course… with that… comes a huge helping of mum pride too!
Big thank you to Rik McRae Astro Photography for allowing me to use some of his incredible images (the poorer quality images are my own – the good ones are his!).