Monday, March 22, 2010

Rooftop Gymnastics and My New Sport

Eventually I started high school but not on cheerleading squad. I had played tennis with my family since I was a child. One of my uncles is or was a college tennis coach. (We have a large family and I'm lucky to know who is even related to me, much less what their current occupational status is. One lady who works with my mom will have nieces or nephews walk into their office, and my mom will ask, "Aren't you even going to greet your aunt?" to which they reply "Who's my aunt?" at the same time the lady says, "This is my niece [or nephew]?" I at least recognize my close relatives by sight.)

I'm not particularly gifted at tennis, but I've had more instruction than most of the others around here, so I was #2 on varsity my freshman year. It was OK, but I'm not passionate about it. I played for one season - long enough to only have to enroll in one year of PE.

In the spring of my freshman year the diving coach approached me and asked me about joining the diving team. My initial response was "Thanks but no thanks." The diving team practices very early in the morning. This year it's at 5:15 a.m. My freshman year it was at 5:00 a.m. To express my feelings in mild terms, I love sleep and I don't love early mornings. I could never be a Mormon in good standing, as are many of my cousins, because they have to attend an early morning class called "seminary" before school. They study LDS scriptures. They study some of the same ones that Catholics do, but they have the Book of Mormon and some other stuff as well. Even if they weren't discouraged from drinking Dr. Pepper and other tasty drinks, I'd have problems with that religion just from the early morning class standpoint.

My Mormon relatives believe that I will never achieve the highest degree of glory in heaven, or even the lowest degree of glory in the highest part of heaven (I know; I'm confused, too) by not joining up with them. If I feel so strongly about sleep that I'm willing to risk my eternal salvation so I won't have to get up too early, why would I want to get up at roughly the same hour to dive into a pool of cold water? (It's technically a heated pool, although not heated to a very comfortable temperature because what's comfortable to us is too warm for the competitive swimmers. Furthermore, even if it were as warm as bath water, it would still be cold when you got out of the pool in the early morning hours, which you must do frequently when you're a diver.)

So it looked for all intents and purposes as though my diving career was over before it even started. Then the diving coach explained it in a different way. "I heard you like gymnastics but your parents won't let you do them any more," he said. He had my attention. I wondered what my gymnastics participation could have to do with diving. "When you dive, you basically do gymnastics in the air for five seconds until you hit the water."

"Do my parents know that diving is 'gymnastics in the air before you hit the water?'" I asked.

"I won't tell them if you won't," he answered.

Since then, I've been hooked. The person who was formerly the biggest a.m. slug in the western hemisphere now eagerly jumps out of bed at 4:30 a.m. and hurriedly gets dressed for diving practice. Even though we only live two blocks from my school, I am not allowed to walk to school for diving practice because it's too early and the boogeyman might get me, so one of my parents, usually my Dad, who is up anyway, either walks with me or drives me to practice, depending on the weather. I would walk in the rain because I'm just going to get wet anyway, but my dad doesn't like to walk in the rain. Older adults often have forgotten what things are fun.

My parents have apparently not figured out the gymnastics/diving connection, because I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't be allowed to dive if they knew that diving is "gymnastics in the air for five seconds before you hit the water."

Then this spring another coach approached me. It seems that there is a connection between gymnastics and hurdling as well. Many track coaches recruit hurdlers from gymnastics and ballet programs. My coach was explaining it to me in motor learning terms. (Physical education teachers have usually taken a course in motor learning.)He referred to a concept in motor learning known as "positive transfer." Every skill in any given sport either has "positive transfer," where the skill from one sport lends itself directly to another sport's skill; "negative transfer," where a skill from one sport actually interferes with the skill acquisition in another sport (think tennis vs. badminton, or even the phyiscal nature of football vs. the essentially non-contact nature of basketball); or "zero transfer" (the skills I acquired in gymnstics would for the most part neither help or hurt me on the softball field). The leaping and extension of legs that are essential in gymnastics are also needed for hurdling, and the leg strength vs. body mass of a gymnast unsually translates to good overall speed. Additionally, though I'm short, I'm proportionately long-limbed, especially for a gymnast. Even if I had been good enough to reach the highest levels of the sport, this might have interfered. The best gymnasts have compact mesomorphic bodies. I'm an ectomorph by nature - not optimal for gymnastics, but perfect for hurdling. For hurdling I'd be better off it I weren't just "proportionately long-limbed," but long-limbed period. C'est la vie. One cannot have everything.

We're still working out my optimal distances. I'm probably best suited to 200 meter and 300 meter hurdles, but I'm trying everything until we figure it out. The track coach has a brain. It's caused me to rethink the "dumb jock" stereotype, as I wouldn't have looked at him and guessed that he was intelligent. He holds a master's degree in exercise physiology. My father told me that many tough science courses would have been required for the attainment of his degree. Appearances can be deceiving. I knew him slightly because freshman P. E. classes are jointly taught. We never had any run-ins, but I didn't have enough in common with the man to actually converse with him at that point.

It wasn't easy to convince my parents that I should do two sports in one season. It also required the coaches to sign an agreement with the athletic director. Because I was first on the diving team, on the three occasions when scheduled events conflict, I will participate in the diving event unless the coach is fairly certain the team can win without me or won't win even if I am there. My parents have stipulated that my grades can't drop below "A minus" in any subject if I am to continue with both sports. The athletic director went along with that as well. Normally if a parent pulls a kid off a team for grades when he or she is still academically eligible to play, the athlete is barred from participating in another sport that season or any sport the following season. Since I'm in two sports, my parents are allowed to pull me out of one for grade reasons. I could be pulled for either or both for health reasons as well, but that shouldn't be an issue.

The only problem so far is that I have limited time to watch Judge Alex. I refuse to give up Judge Alex.


  1. I did not figure this out right away. It took me an hour. You said "My parents have apparently not figured out the gymnastics/diving connection, because I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't be allowed to dive if they knew that diving is 'gymnastics in the air for five seconds before you hit the water.' "

    I do not agree. With gymnastics or being on your house, the danger is in hitting the ground mostly or something else like the beam. So your parents could have been aware of the gymnastics in the air. With diving, there is a small danger of hitting the board but you can hit the water with your head first and still be okay. The water is softer than a solid. That's physics.

    I could understand your parents being scared badly by you doing your stunts on the roof but they could have talked to you about the dangers and the need for safety and "put the fear of God into you" and then leave it up to you.

    So my question to you is if your hypothetical daughter did the above, would you ban her from doing gymnastics or would you talk to her about it and leave it up to her? Of course you can tell her that if she dies from it, then she will be dead but you will have to live the rest of your life without her and that will be heart♥breaking for you.

  2. Chuck, as angry as it made me at the time, I probably would have done the same thing my parents did if it were my child. There was no guarantee I wouldn't still go onto the roof and do something stupid, but the odds against it were best if I were pulled from gymnastics.(I was whacked as well, so that was further incentive to stay the hell off the roof.) I'd already been suspended from the gym for two weeks by the director for dangerous practices on the balance beam. I know now that my parents were aware that diving was "gymnastics in the air." I was only fifteen when I wrote this. Teens think their parents are stupid. Only as we grow older do we realize they're a hell of a lot smarter than we ever thought.

  3. A few hours later, before I read this, I realized that you were only 15. You know that some children do not listen to their parents and also want to get back at their parents. I guess you being whacked means you were spanked. So kids who want to get back at their parents, know that one way to do that is to get hurt themselves.

    Punishing kids for doing dangerous things can be counter productive. I told you that the French girl jumped off the 5th floor balcony to kill herself but lived. Should she be punished for that?

    With enough love, you can totally trust your children. With enough force and hate, your children can kill you. There were these 2 brothers (Menendez brothers) that killed their parents. Also that guy (not great with names) that killed kids in the elementary school killed his mother first.

    One student who killed students in the Columbine shootings made a video first to explain why he did it. He wanted to get back at his parents. His way was that instead of killing them, he wanted that whenever people looked at these 2 parents, to think of the Columbine killings.

    I feel that the only way to win with your kids is to be on their side and not to be against them. There is a law against suicide to try to detain and help them. What if the law against suicide was execution? There is a law against being a suicidal terrorist. Do you think that will make them less likely to do it?

    Also since you are so smart, you could have been told that next time you try a dangerous thing on the roof that instead of getting killed, you could end up being cripple for life.

    Here is true story about alcohol. A guy was smart enough to get into one of the Ivy League schools-- University of Penn. On his 21st birthday he did a popular right of passage. He drank 21 shots of alcohol. There was a second floor outside balcony in this building and he accidentally fell and got brain damage from it.

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  5. My parents were not overly heavy-handed in terms of discipline, but they spanked when the offense was serious and nothing else seemed to work. They always tried reasoning with us first. When that occasionally failed and we continued to engage in dangerous behavior, sometimes they found that a swat or two was the best course of action.

    I once ran out into a busy street after having done it before and after having been told firmly that it was very dangerous because cars drove in that street at fast speeds, and the drivers weren't necessarily looking for little children. The second time I did it, I was spanked. I never did it again. Eventually I became old enough to thoroughly understand the danger. When I was younger, I might have been too little to comprehend the danger of the cars without having seen firsthand what harm that cars can cause pedestrians, but I did understand that my bottom would hurt if I ran in the street.. it was a small price to pay for a life-saving lesson. Of course my parents tried to always hold our hands anytime we were near traffic, but children have been known to break away from parents, as I did on two occasions.I'm sure it hurt my dad to swat me even more than it hurt me, but a parent must d what he or she thinks is best to protect a child.

    In the case of the rooftop gymnastics caper, both my brother and I had been told to stay off the roof. We had been given through explanations as to why it was dangerous. Our input had been listened to. i had been told not to attempt specific gymnastics maneuvers even at the gym without the presence of a spotter. i knew what I was doing was dangerous. So did my brother, who had dared me to do the stunt. My parents felt that spanking us for our dangerous behavior was the best course of action after having tried to explain it in our terms. They were always on our side. They reserved spanking for serious offenses and did it very seldom. In the case of the rooftop caper, it was their feeling that if our egos were bruised from being spanked, we would probably eventually recover from that, but if our spinal cords were severed from a rooftop fall, there wouldn't be a hell of a lot my parents could do to fix it.


  6. My brother left our home one afternoon and went to the home of a child whose parents my parents did not know. The home was roughly half a mile from our house. Matthew didn't return until after dark. My parents were terrified and even contacted the police, but Matthew eventually returned home safe and sound. My parents had a long talk with Matthew about the importance of telling them where he was going, the importance of going only to places where he had permission to go, , and so forth. It was a very calm discussion as I remember it, and Matthew seemed to take it to heart. Then, maybe a couple of weeks later, he did the same thing again, except this time going to another child's house. Mt parents checked the home of the other child he had visited, along with the homes of other friends,, but he wasn't there. eventually he got hungry and showed up at home again. This time they locked up his bicycle and grounded him for a month. He seemed to get the point. Then a couple of weeks after the grounding was over, he pulled the same stunt again. We lived in a part of California where numerous kidnappings had taken place in recent years, and parents were understandably paranoid. The police wanted to be called at the first sign of a disappearance, as they wanted a jump on the criminal or criminals if there was a crime. Fortunately in this case, there was no criminal or crime. It was just Matthew being thoughtless again. He showed up after dark, not even hungry because he had eaten at the other child's house. He had told the other boy's parents that he had called and his parents said it was OK if he stayed for dinner. They didn't think he'd lie about such a thing. This time, my parents decided enough was enough, My dad spanked Matthew, and his after-school disappearances never happened again. Even now, as a twenty-year-old, Matthew gives my parents the courtesy of telling them where he's going and at roughly what time he'll return home. he calls if he will be late or if he is in no condition to drive.

    Of course parents should be on the sides of their children. This doesn't always mean being their children's"friends,"though. Someone has to be in charge, and that may mean imposing consequences when just talking alone doesn't do the job. Sometimes "love" is spelled""d-i-s-c-i-p-l-i-n-e." As unpleasant as it it is for both the parent and the child (assuming the parent is a normal, loving parent and not a sicko who derives pleasure from it, that the child is relatively young, that the physical punishment is not excessive, and that the parent is thoroughly in control of himself or herself when administering it, spanking can be the least of the evils.

    Of course parents should be on the sides of their children. This doesn't always mean being their children's"friends,"though. Sp,epme has to be in charge, and that may mean imposing consequences when just talking alone doesn't do the job. Sometimes "love" is spelled""d-i-s-c-i-p-l-i-n-e." As unpleasant as it it is for both the parent and the child (assuming the parent is a normal, loving parent and not a sicko who derives pleasure from it, that the child is relatively young, that the physical punishment is not excessive, and that the parent is thoroughly in control of himself or herself when administering it, spanking can be the least of the evils.

    My parents never disciplined us inaprporiately. Had they not resorted to the used of spanking on the rare occasions that they did, I might not be here today to tell about it.

  7. Thanks for the thorough explanation. It is interesting to see another's experience with parents. From your explanation, the discipline worked. My brother and I never saw a reason to disobey our mother. For me going out to eat 4 evenings a week with my brother, mother and grandfather was priceless to me.

    Also my mother took us to the library every 3 weeks since longer than that was a fine. We would stay there all day and leave with about 9 books for each of us. In 3 weeks we could return the books or renew them. We loved reading books so much. While we waited in the restaurants for our food to come, many times we would be reading.

    Then when school was over for the summer, we moved into an expensive hotel on the Atlantic City beach for the entire summer. We woke up early and went onto the beach with our grandfather. Later our mother woke up and we ate breakfast at a restaurant. Back to the beach until lunch. Then after lunch we would spend the afternoon at the hotel pool overlooking the beach.
    This was so great that there was an extremely terrible thing that would happen once in a while. It is the most terrible thing that anyone could imagine. It would rain and we were stuck in the hotel the whole day. Even though I loved my mother a lot, my grandfather and brother were my best friends growing up. I really appreciate you going into detail about how discipline was necessary at your house.

  8. To be fair I should tell you my cousin's perspective of the above. My mother had 2 brothers and each had a wife and 4 kids. Since those families had fathers, my grandfather did not need to be like a father to them so they did not eat out 4 evenings a week or spend much of the summer at the beach. Actually if they lived near us, my grandfather would have taken them out to eat also but they lived too far away for that.

    So they figure that it was not fair that we got all this since we had the misfortune of not having a father. They were also his grandchildren just as much as we were. So because of this misfortune, we got to enjoy our grandfather's golden years of retirement.