Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rooftop Gymnastics

Note: This is an adaptation of a previous post. In  very many ways, I'm  not like columnist John Rosemond and others of his ilk, who try to pass off  previous columns as new work for the purpose of financial gain. How hard is it to come up with a new fake letter from a fake reader  supposedly asking the precise fake question you wanted to answer, anyway? In the event that you could not tell, I am not a fan of John Rosemond.

another fool on a balance beam, although at least it was an actual balance beam she was on

When I was younger, I was
a gymnast. It started as a hobby but became more intense as I progressed. By the time I reached my peak at the age of not quite eleven, I hadn't yet acquired all the skills to reach the Elite level, but wasn't terribly far away. I was spending roughly twenty hours each week at the gym where I trained. Because my parents both worked, they were minimally involved in my life at the gym. During part of my gymnastics training, my mother was dealing with major illnesses, one of which was life-threatening, which resulted in even less involvement on their part. They or another relative usually transported me to and from the gym, and they attended an occasional competition, but mostly they just threw money at the directors of any gymnastics program in which I was a participant (we moved a couple of times during my gymnastics training) and told the people to take me away. I all ended rather abruptly on an autumn afternoon when I was ten.

Because gymnastics is a very expensive sport (my father's reason), or because too much time spent on one activity at a young age isn't necessarily a good thing (my mother's reason), my parents opted to have me participate in very close to the minimal number of competitions required by my gymnastics program driectors. That still left me involved in frequent weekend meets, but it gave me what most gymnasts at my level didn't have, which was an occasional weekend at home.

On one of those weekends, my family was  going about the process of spending our usual quality time together. This would have meant that my father was inside watching football on TV (I think it was a Saturday, so it was presumably college football), my mother was in her room asleep, and my brother and I were outside, contriving  dangerous things we could dare each other to do.

My brother had climbed an evergreen  tree to get onto the roof of our two-story home. He first ventured onto the roof of the garage, then made his way to the lowest part of the house roof, then finally onto the very highest part of the two-story roof. Once there, he observed that the beam running the length of the roof was "about as wide as that thing you do gymnastics tricks on." His statement was reflective of how little attention my family paid to my participation in gymnastics: my very own twin brother didn't even know what a balance beam was called. Matthew then went on to say that a gymnast "who isn't a coward" could probably "do tricks  right here on the roof of our house."

I recognized that he was baiting me, but I couldn't quitebring myself to pass on his challenge. "What'll you give me if I do it?" I asked.

"I'll visit you in the hospital after you fall," or something very similar to that, was his reply.

"I won't do it unless you give something!" I demanded.

"A dollar," he offered.

"Ten, " I countered.

"Five," he shot back.

"Okay, five" I agreed.

I navigated the limbs of the pine tree and made my way up the various levels of the roof until I was with him on the highest part. "What do I need to do?" I asked him.

"Some of those flip things," he replied. (He's a boy. I'm lucky he even was able to articulate the term  those flip things.)

I may have been foolish at that age, and may still be to some degree, but I wasn't bona fide suicidal. "I'm not doing any round-offs or back handsprings up here," I told him, looking down at the ground so far below.

"You can't just stand there. I'm not paying you to do something I can do," he argued.

We finally agreed on a back walkover and a cartwheel. I told him to get out of my way. I walked to the the far  end of the roof, took a deep breath, turned around, and went right into the back walkover followed by a cartwheel. . . and now I'm speaking from my wheelchair into an assistive technology device that will translate my spoken words into print. Not really. I'm joking, although it could have ended up that way. The maneuvers were ones I'd been doing on the beam since my first year out of the "Mommy and Me" gymnastics classes that my brother and I took, and the beam on the roof was nearly identical in width to an actual balance beam, but it also was on the roof of a two-story house. God was apparently protecting fools that day, and I escaped unscathed. . . more or less, anyway.

Just as I was executing the maneuvers, a neighbor across the street walked out his front door. The rest is history, as is my gymnastics career. (My parents had already paid non-refundable fees for the first half of the year, but that wasn't even a consideration to them. Until I enrolled in gymnastics and tumbling courses as an eighteen-year-old, I didn't seen the inside of another gymnastics facility. My dad even took advantage of  his privilege as a physician to have me excused from all gymnastics activity in  middle school and high school physical education courses.)

I won't detail exactly what happened to me that day, as it is embarrassing to admit that my parents were so uncivilized, but I will say that I'm reasonbly certain that my father would have been arrested if we had he been in Sweden. My sole consolation was that my brother's role in the reckless activity was not overlooked, and my father would have been arrested in Sweden for what happened to him as well. Furthermore, my brother and I never renege on bets or dares, so, unbeknownst to my parents, I was five dollars richer when my brother and I were finally paroled from our rooms.


  1. Isn't John Rosemond that guy who does the columns about discipline? Or am I thinking of someone else? I can't even do a cartwheel on terra firma… I couldn't even when I was relatively thin. I like watching gymnastics, though… or I did when I was a teen and somewhat flirting with eating disorders. Now that I'm an old hag, I'm less interested than I used to be.

  2. Yep, it's the same John Rosemond. He was busted and dumped by many newspapers a few years ago when he admitted to recycling columns and passing them off as new, in addition to fabricating the advice-seeking letters her printed in his columns. I had always wondered about the letters because they were asking him the same questions pertaining to the topics that he so frequently addressed in his columns anyways.anypne who paid any attention to his column whatsoeverwould have already known his answers to those questions. I'm more aware of his column than I might otherwise have been because my mother hated his advice and frequently ranted about his at the dinner table. I believe he was from somewhere in the Carolinas.

  3. Yeah… really into corporal discipline, if I recall correctly.

  4. Rosemond is not into physical punishment as much as some, though he is by no means opposed to it. He thinks corporal punishment is just to get a child's attention so that a parent can lobby REAL consequences. He's mainly just anti-child. He's really into stuff like putting a very young child into his or her room for the remainder of the day and for the next day as well for fairly insignificant acts of misbehavior. He's moored in the idea that parents shouldn't alter their lifestyles one whit because they've chosen to have children, and that children really are best seen and not heard. children are excellent sources of slave labor according to Rosemond.

    That being said, I think many of today's parents are ridiculously accommodating and tolerate far too much misbehavior, and expect other innocent bystanders to do the same; those people could stand to hear a bit of John Rosemond's "voice in the wilderness" gospel. Furthermore, children should do some chores around the house for numerous reasons. To expect children to exist solely as smaller versions of adults with no rights and virtually no privileges, however, is just plain wrong, and people who cannot bear to alter their adult-only lifestyles to accommodate the children they bring into the world purely and simply should not bring children into the world.