/BY SHAINDLE SCHMUCKLER/ //AN AJT CONTRIBUTOR//

 

Recently I experienced my first real gymnastics meet.

My little granddaughter Lila – whom I more often than not prefer to call by one of the many nick names I’ve bestowed upon her: Lila-bean, or Lila Nay, or even better, my buzshmeister – is on a gymnastics team who compete in gymnastics meets.

You say you have never been exposed to such an event? You are missing something special, and hysterical.

Remember when the Olympics were in Atlanta? I did not have the opportunity of attending any of the events. I was, however, glued to the TV during certain competitions.

Don’t we all have our favorite events and favorite competitors? One of mine is gymnastics; yes I know, most people love this sport as much as I do.

Did you have the unique experience of seeing the “Fab Five” gymnastics team during the last Olympics? My nuclear family, my extended family, and everyone else in the universe were mesmerized by the five young women gymnasts who represented the U.S.A and proved themselves to be true Olympians.

As their back-stories soon revealed, these young women are very different than most of their peers. They had something different, something special. They knew from an early age that they not only loved the sport, but also needed it to feed their souls.

These young athletes are driven to reach a goal; they spend their short lifetimes determined to be different, and to do something special. It takes years, months, hours, and 5 a.m. carpools (and let’s not forget the expenses we mere mortals cannot imagine) to produce an Olympian.

My little Lila is the kindest, most beautiful, and of course the smartest little 7-year-old in the entire immediate world. She is one of the budding stars on her Perimeter Gymnastics team.

By the way, Lila is one of my extraordinarily fantabulous 10 grandchildren. “Ten!” you are all shouting? Yes 10! I am happily aware that you can’t believe it, because you think I am not old enough to have grandchildren. That is what you are thinking isn’t it? Please! But back to Lila.

Her team wears the obligatory cool costumes; their outfits are all beautiful colors – in this case my favorite color eggplant – with lots of bling. They all also have very attractive jackets and backpacks, and the girls wear these clothes with great pride.

It would appear to be part of the overall aura for all gymnasts to sling their backpacks over one shoulder, walk along in a very single line, with their backs ram rod straight when moving from one event to the other.

And the parents! Oh my gosh! (I would have used another word, but was not sure it is a printable expression of shock) They all lose their ever-lovin’ minds.

I thought sports team parents were a bit over the top. Nay, nay I say. The elegant sport of gymnastics can also proudly boast a few over-the-top parents. For example, parents are asked not to snap photos because the flash is distracting and can cause the children to slip and fall. One would think parents would want safety to be a number one concern. One would be wrong!

Parents will call out their child’s name so the photo or video can include their terrified child’s face. If the child does not turn around fast enough, like in a nanosecond, they are once again embarrassed to hear their name called, with a great deal more enthusiasm.

The thing is, the parents will stand up directly in front of audience members (me!) and block us from witnessing these possible future Olympians at work.

Here I would like to add that the fact that I kept urging my own daughter to get video and photos for my granddaughters’ bat mitzvah montage is completely irrelevant, and should not be included in the same breath or thought with those parents who were driving me up a wall.

So far, my grandchild has collected quite a few medals. I must let you know what is so wonderful about her. Medals and trophies aside, she loves the gestalt of the sport; the action, the clothes, the audience, the team friendships.

There have been times when she comes in third out of three; but if you put yourself in her place, you will discover that a medal around your neck is a medal to be proud of. This past meet, her entire team won first place in the bronze division. They took home a trophy for goodness sakes.

Each of the girls was jumping (literally) for joy. So cute, and so hysterically funny; their screeches of happiness could be heard all the way in Russia. Did I mention there was only one bronze team competing? Never you mind, the girls deserved the trophy. They worked hard and made an honorable showing.

There is a huge difference between the Fab Five and my own little gymnast. Let me explain.

Lila was invited to her friend’s birthday party. The little girl is one of her very favorite friends. Unfortunately, the party was the very same day and time as the gymnastics invitational meet.

Yes, all you novices out there, you must be invited. It’s an invitation you just don’t refuse – as all godfather’s and future Olympians can tell you.

If Lila was to make it to the birthday party in time, she had to make a very difficult choice. Stay for the gymnastic invitational meet’s awards ceremony, or cut out a little early in order to get to the party before the opening of gifts and the eating of birthday cake.

After a bit of a struggle between crocodile tears and some serious foot stomping, I suggested a compromise: stay for her medal, then immediately rush clear across town to the party, in the hopes the party would still be in full swing.

The party angels were with us; we did not get any speeding tickets and we arrived in time to sing the preverbal birthday song, the gift opening ceremony and most important of all, the eating of the cake.

This begs the question; would the Fab Five have even considered this as a choice? See what I mean?

I think you would support my belief, in that I won’t have to save up money for a front row seat at any gymnastic Olympic event in the near or far future.

We all hope our children reach for, and indeed, actually reach the gold of the journey they’ve chosen. I am looking for Lila to “getting the gold” in the life she will lead.

Shaindle wants to be clear about the following: Her seven male and three female grandchildren are the smiles in her heart, the happiness always shinning on her face. She also wants to thank her four girls and four sons in law for these extraordinary gifts.

Shaindle welcomes your suggestions, just remember, no rights of privacy will be observed.