Enter the Rival

It’s October, and fall weather is finally here.  No more need for air conditioning, as things have cooled down significantly.  Haru also started a new extra curricular activity this month: swimming.  She is actually going to the same sports club that I am going to twice a week.  At first, I wasn’t particularly too thrilled over the idea of Haru joining a swimming class for fear that swimming may build too much muscle mass too fast, and make her too rigid and stiff for gymnastics.  But my wife insisted on it in hopes that it would help her with her asthma.

As for her gymnastics, I have been really turning up the pressure a bit, because Haru has been slacking off lately.  She used to practice at home every day, but lately she’d rather go outside and play, or watch TV.  I told her that she needed to practice more and she promised she would, but every time I asked her if she had practiced, she would respond I forgot.  The I forgot response got to be so frequent, that I began to think that she was losing interest.  So one day, I came home for work and asked Haru once again if she had practiced anything that day.  Again, I forgot.  At that point, I was so tired of the same response I told her, fine..you’re done!  No more gymnastics and no more tumbling classes…you are quitting.  She panicked and begged me not to make her quit, but I was pretty serious.  I was spending so much of my time and money trying to get her to be the best, and she just didn’t seem interested anymore.  I told her that that if she quit gymnastics, she could do whatever she wanted.  No more having to do painful stretches before going to bed, no more telling her friends she couldn’t play because she had to go to class on Saturdays.  She was free to do whatever she wanted, and I was free to sleep in on Saturdays.But she insisted that she still wanted to do it.  She promised that she would practice more and concentrate harder in class.  I told her that she had to show me that she was serious, otherwise at the end of this month, she has to quit everything.   She agreed.

Today was the first test of her sincerity and dedication to the sport.  It was also the first day Haru’s biggest kindergarten era rival joined Haru’s gymnastics class.  That’s right Yuka S. was back.  To rehash, Yuka S. (not to be mistaken with Yuka Y.) is an extremely athletic and talented kindergarten classmate of Haru’s.  She HATES to lose anything, and always insisted that whatever Haru could do, she could do too.  However, Haru was always a step our two ahead of her when it came to gymnastics, which is really impressive considering she never had any formal gymnastics training.  When Haru learned to do a cartwheel, Yuka praticed, practiced and practiced until she was able to do it too.  And she was finally able to do it, she did with perfect form; something that Haru took quite a while to be able to do.  Yuka was the perfect addition to the class because their athleticism was so closely matched, she would push Haru to work harder at her game.  I told Haru that gymnastics was her game, and she shouldn’t and couldn’t let someone, with no formal training just walk in beat her at it.

When Yuka walked into the class, she came correct.  I could tell she was already very serious about this.  When Haru and I were doing stretches, she immediately joined us.  After the stretches, Haru began doing her newly learned skill, the back walkover, which is a fairly advanced skill .  Yuka, with her can’t lose personality immediately attempted it herself and failed of course.  A back walkover takes weeks if not months of practice and very strong abdominal strength, but she insisted that I teach her anyways.  We gave it a few goes, but it became very apparent that she didn’t have the abdominal strength to be able to pull herself over.  I told her that in order for her to be able to do this, she needed more stronger stomach muscles and that she needed to more situps.

Haru doesn’t quite have the same pride and drive that Yuka has, but she does have the ability to pick up things fairly quickly.  This may just be my own personal and biased opinion, but Haru is definitely one of the best in her class.  She is definitely THE BEST first grader in the class, and this is a fact, not an opinion, because she can do far more than any first grader.   I also believe she is even better than most of the older 5th and 6th graders, so much so that she is often put in with them.

Yuka did extremely well.  She wasn’t able to quite work her way into the 3rd+ grade class like Haru did, but this is simply because she is still new and the teachers don’t know what she can do yet. I know that this will change soon.  She did so well, that she put all of the other first graders who had been doing gymnastics for 2 years or more, to complete shame.  And if Haru doesn’t step up her game, Yuka has the potential and the drive to overtake her in no time.  But I think this is exactly what they both need.  Someone to push each other to do better.

After we got home, we got a text message from Yuka’s mother saying that Yuka did 30+ situps when she got home.  This girl is definitely not playing.




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