Written by Marykate O’Malley, mother of three wonderful children, Gladwyne, PA
So …by the time I went so sign my youngest up for gymnastics this spring, the class was full. She was devastated. In a 6 almost 7 year old way. And so naturally I had the Mommy guilts – how could I have been so short sighted – I should have known to sign her up in the fall for a spring session. Eventually we both got over it and then something awesome happened….
She and her sister decided to charter “The Gymnastics Club” which they call “You Got Skills”. They created posters and hung them on our front door advertising this idea. They then make flyers and went door to door around our adorable neighborhood recruiting friends to join. They held try-outs (everyone made it) to assess where everyone was in their practice. And they organized themselves – my oldest was fittingly the teacher, my youngest and her friend principles and they had a “class” of students.
Every Friday afternoon after the bus let out they would have practice on our front lawn for 30 minutes. They practiced one handed cartwheels, round – offs, splits, back bends and handstands. My youngest, an Gabby Douglas fan would watch her perform on You Tube and then copy her routines. She perfected beautiful cartwheels that are almost ethereal with how slow and deliberate they are. She used an old broom and our patio edge as a balance beam, a tree branch for her to swing, and worked on her floor routine.
They had practices for two months every Friday afternoon and finished the season with a show. They hand wrote every invitation, and delivered them to neighbors and friends. And created awards for each student including most improved and perfect attendance. They hand wrote a script for for each student to recite and on a muggy Friday night had the grand event with parents as spectators.
And this was all because a class was full. And they did all of this themselves – it was their ideas, their vision, their work. They exercised leadership, entrepreneurial skills, teamwork, delegation, organization, and were physically active doing something they loved.
My youngest cartwheels almost as much as she walks these days. I am often asked where she takes lessons and I laugh and reply “Gabby Douglas on You Tube”. There were a lot of lessons in this about scheduled activities and also life. They look a disappointment and made it into something wonderful, and then shared it with their friends. And yes I am signing up this week for September – how can I forget when asked almost daily! And they are bringing back “You Got Skills” when school starts again. I am so glad she didn’t get into that class. It was the best class we never went to.