Tuesday, June 10, 2014

And This is Why My Hair Turns Gray

There was a special and very inspiring gathering of gymnasts in Aarhus this Monday. Young athletes from all over Jutland came to exhibit their talents, so we, together with our American friends Seth, Liz, and Sonia, went to go see the show.

Of course we all are expected to stand at the appearance of the Dannebrog, or Danish flag, but what surprised me was that we all also clap in unison.  This is also true during the show: there was music playing during the show's entirety, and so to display our appreciation for each team's performance, the audience would clap to the beat of the music. This applause would then fade away, although the music would continue. There was surprisingly few hoots or hollers of appreciation as would be common in an American show of comparable scale and caliber. It was all very civilized, which of course I quite enjoyed, but also a bit strange: I'd never experienced audience behavior quite like this, before.

The boys evidently enjoyed the expert throwing around of one's body, in the form of acro-gymnastics, tumbling, trampoline, a hip hop dance routine, and pommel horse events.  (A cool video of the tumbling cavalcade can be seen on Seth and Liz's blog: Eventyr med Sonia.) I say this, because after the show, ALL they wanted to do was throw their own bodies around.

Afterwards, the gym opened its fantastic facilities up to anyone who wanted to play, and with the boys both inspired and wound up with the energy from sitting still for two hours watching the show, I knew we were headed for trouble.

I mean, does any of this look safe to you?  No, it does not. (Yes, that is Aditya coming down to meet the trampoline head-first, for example.).

All those structures up there in the next photo near the ceiling are fenced in, luckily, and are open for play: slides, climbing walls, ropes, ladders, a fireman's pole, swings, hammocks, rings in addition to what's down on the floor: trampolines, tumbling mats ... and  a clear glass/plexiglass ceiling that Rohan happily walked on as both Liz and I watched - and gasped at - in (initial) fear.

You can't see it from this photo (below), but the ladders are the one structure that don't actually have a protected fall. Mats and mattresses line the floor except under these.  If you fall, you fall on hard floor.

And there he goes:

Once again:

Now big brother (and Seth ... thank you, Seth) get in on the act.

And then of course, big brother was also doing backflips. Did I need to be made to video this by my very excited son? No, I did not. That is all I have to say.

And that is the difficulty of parenthood isn't it?  We'd throw ourselves in front of an oncoming train to save our kids if we had to; we've sworn to protect them with our lives. To take a bullet would now be second nature to us, but in addition, we also need to stand back and let them experiment for themselves, we have to watch them throw themselves from dizzying heights and do backflips and hold our breath and not say all the time, "Don't do this, you'll get hurt." We have to let them live. And the inherent irony of living that truth can make any sane person's hair turn gray.

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