We decided to say Yes

We knew early on that Tia had a knack for gymnastics. Remember when I walked outside and found her like this at three years old?


Shortly after taking this photo, we signed her up for her first gymnastics class. Within a year she was selected for a special developmental team and we slowly tip-toed our way into competitive gymnastics.

This has been one of our tougher parenting decisions, honestly. It’s been hard to know how much to allow, how much to push, how much of her time to commit to a sport that she likely won’t be able to stick with long term. We held her back for a long time, not pushing or allowing her to move too quickly for fear it would be too much.

This year it finally came to the point where moving her up in the sport was inevitable. We either needed to make the commitment or pull her from the sport and guide her in a different direction.

We decided to say yes.

Tia is currently training three days a week for a total of 11.5 hours. It’s a big commitment for a seven year old and it isn’t one we made lightly. I still have worries and concerns about the time it’s taking, and yet…


She really loves the sport. She loves the challenge of it and the thrill of getting a new skill. She thinks the beam is fun, which is just crazy talk if you ask me. And she runs so hard down the vault runway that she scares everyone but herself.

There are times when I drop her off for one of the four hour practices that I wonder why on Earth we are doing this. Is it foolish? Should she be at home with her family? Are we stealing her childhood? Will this affect her relationship with her brothers?

Then I laugh and shake my head. I think the time apart improves her relationship with her brothers. Also, we live in an amazing neighborhood full of kids, half of which spend most of their afternoons playing in my backyard.

All of them are boys.

There aren’t a lot of little girls running around our neck of the woods beach, so gymnastics is, for Tia, a crucial time of socialization and girl time. It’s where she’s learning all those cute little girl chants and clapping games that every single girl has played since the beginning of ever.

Summer-09-179Gymnastics is not only making her stronger and more confident – it’s also giving her the perfect outlet to be a silly little girl and I really love that for her…even if the sassy hip pop makes me want to roll my eyes.

I have no idea how long she will want to stick with this sport. The time commitment is so intense and it makes for some really long days. But in the long run, we finally decided that whether she does it for a year or five, these hours in the gym won’t be wasted. She can take the skills, both physical and mental, that she’s learning on the blue mats and apply them to any other sport and experience in life.

Parenting is so hard. We are given these children for a short time and we begin to recognize talents and gifts and suddenly the pressure to develop those gifts, to point them in the direction that will best suit them, gets all heavy and freaky and you find yourself wondering if you’re really helping them or if you are forever screwing them up.

Then you breathe in. You watch a beautiful vault, hear the crack of the bat, scream as the ball soars into the net, shriek when he runs the ball in for a touch down, and you breathe out again.

And when she walks out of the gym and collapses in a heap of tears because the workout was so hard that night, you wipe her tears and tell her to stick with it, because you know it’s important to fight through the pain.

You also know that the day will come when she’ll turn and look at you, holding a ribbon high with a joyous grin plastered across her face and in return you’ll give a huge thumbs up and clap louder than anyone else at the accomplishment.

Those are the moments we wait for as parents. Those are the moments when we’re glad we said yes.


What about you? Have you made big extracurricular commitments with your kids? How did you make the decision to commit your child’s time to a single activity?


  1. This is so good, Kelli!

    I struggle with the whole sports thing. (Maybe I’m lazy and don’t want to drive them?) So, I love hearing your words and thoughts.

    (Have fun at Disney!)

    • Oh man, the driving them thing is so hard too! I that regard the four hour practices are actually great, though, be use if the boys have baseball on the same night I have plenty of time to get everyone where they need to be. 🙂 It is a hard decision, for sure. But I think if we are in tune with how they’re feeling and aren’t pushing them too hard or holding them back, sports can be a really great thing!

      Thanks Amanda! I’m having a great time and am really learning a lot!

  2. Kelli,
    I felt the same as you did once upon a time. But after having a daughter in competitive dance for 14 years, I can not begin to elaborate on the positive things that came from it. It was her passion and gave her the most amazing self discipline and confidence. She learned early to make decisions on what things in life to go for and what she should let go. She learned to balance the demands of school and the studio really well, and I admire her discipline. She and all of the other girls at the studio also excelled academically. In my experience as a mom it is important to really be able to clue in when they feel overwhelmed, because personalities like theirs won’t show it until they are in a heap of tears on the floor.
    Our benefit was the studio has Christian owners and that helped tremendously. So we never had Sunday practices unless some emergency came up.
    Rebecca was also living in a house with 3 brothers, so she giggled and goofed off with all those girls and they bonded like crazy.
    As long as it remains Tia’s passion and not some one else, then go for it! Hope that helps. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for telling me that, Robin. I know that there are so many positives that can come from serious sports training. I try to keep that in perspective when I’m flipping out over them time. 🙂 It helps to hear the perspective of someone on the other side!

  3. Let me give you some encouragement….

    I was that girl. I started classes at 3, was competing by 5 and ended my “career” at 13. I went on to have another slightly less full time “career” as a diver until 17. I got injured. I got heartbroken. I flat out hurt most nights. But…

    I grew strong. I learned that I could fight through pain, through tears, through those who didn’t believe in me. I learned to listen to those who did. I learned to visualize what I wanted to do and make it happen. I learned that falling in front of a crowd isn’t the worst thing, as long as you get up and try again. I learned that hard work and commitment can also be fun, and can bring great joy.

    When injuries piled up to the point that my parents decided I was done, I didn’t know what to do with the extra 20-25 hours a week (at that point I was in the gym 6 days a week, and twice a day in the summer). But all I learned served me well.

    Now, it’s 23 years later, and I have had numerous surgeries from the injuries I had (though we believe some of it’s genetic, not all to be blamed on the gym). But I have never forgotten all I learned, and if I had it to do again and know all I know, I would.

    Now I have boys and one is a very good baseball player and we’re doing travel ball. Sometimes it’s hard, but I never forget that for the kid who truly loves it and isn’t pushed into doing it, the rewards are great.