Thank you for gymnastics

I took my kids to a gymnastics, er, tumbling class (they are boys, after all) with some other English-speaking kids today.
It was a really special time for all of us, kids and parents, and I started to think about why.
I think it has something to do with the fact that things like this are part of what most of us thought we gave up (on behalf of our kids) when we chose to live in Central Asia.
Sports are a big part of American (and I think British) culture, and they are here, too, but it’s just different. For one thing, sports programs are very expensive — often a mark of being very affluent.
Second, sports are taught in Russian, which makes them more inaccessible to young kids living outside their home culture. Not to mention a little intimidating for those of us parents whose Russian is less-than what we would like it to be.
Third, boys here mostly do boxing or karate — something I don’t feel comfortable having my boys participate in. And there is a whole different cultural understanding when it comes to sportsmanship, safety, losing graciously, etc (that might be the understatement of the year).
Today, it felt like with God’s help we were able to overcome all of that and just have a really great time.
The lesson came about as a result of a student I have been helping with English. She happened to mention her godfather teaches gymnastics to kids, and it was my turn to organize a field trip for our small co-op. Sound like providence? I think so.
Central Asia revolves around relationship, and so my relationship with this student helped open the door — the godfather was inclined to agree to a one-time lesson, my student agreed to help us drive there and translate during for the kids and her mother even came to help with all the babies (in addition to seven five-and-youngers in class, we had three babies in two who were not old enough to participate).
It started snowing heavily and trying to coordinate four vehicles while navigating to a place I had never even been to made me start to realize how miraculous it would be if we even made it, but like I said, God was with us.
We were whisked into a beautiful gym (haven’t seen anything this pristine in the US) and as we removed hands, scarves, boots and jackets I realized the floor was heated. Amazing. The only problem is the warmth made me realize how badly I needed to find a bathroom (sorry if that’s too much information).
To be honest, I hadn’t even been aware that facilities like this existed in this part of the world. A lot of the people I know are rather consumed with the business of surviving, and the idea of a whole building created (and heated) for something recreational seems rather out of the ordinary.
The other interesting part was how quiet the gym was. I was expecting what I’d experienced in US gyms: blaring music, cheering, loud coaching, kids being silly, etc.
Not this gym. It was quiet. Really quiet. Kids were told what to do, and that was all. Your turn, and then the next kid.
It actually seemed to help focus the kids, but us parents couldn’t resist contributing some high fives and verbal encouragement. And since we are foreigners, and by definition from a different universe anyway, no one seemed to mind.
After I got home I was just grateful. For my student who took the time to help us, for the moms who were willing to give something new a try, and for God, who gave us all a gift.
Who knows what’s next? Maybe even swimming lessons…

2 thoughts on “Thank you for gymnastics

  1. Yep, for Brits too. One mom asked another today ‘what sports did you do, growing up?’ I didn’t reply, but what didn’t I do? Where I grew up you did sports every week and then outside of school too – swimming, netball, gymnastics, squash, ballet, modern dance, cross-country running, athletics, circuits, tennis, rounders (like baseball), backstop (or stop ball or something?!), trampolining, badminton… and that was just ME – I’m not even very good at sports! For kids there’s ‘sounds and lights’, music sessions, playgroups, art groups, dance groups, bumps and babies, stroller-walking moms groups, museums with activities for kids, farms and petting zoos… Did I think I’d sacrificed all that for my kids? Yes. And yet there I was, today, driving my kids from gym class to Kazakh class feeling every bit like a normal British mom!

    Until the cop pulled me over, threatened to charge me nearly $400 for a minor driving infringement (the line I didn’t obey was under the snow!) realised I wasn’t an oil worker and let me go. Ok, so that was less British…! 😉

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