Friday, March 31, 2006

Yer the one who thinks she can do gymnastics?

OF ALL the things I am proud of during my childhood including learning to swim at 10 and six months later being one of the best swimmers in the school, and other assortment of things like passing my 11+ (not that it means anything) to doing a reading at my Holy Communion to winning a school art competition, getting my separated parents back together when I was 11 is top of my list.

My parents parted when I was about four to five years old. I don’t really remember much other than memories of being really upset that she wasn’t there and not understanding why.

I don’t think or well I don’t remember it being explained to me but I do have flashbacks I suppose of emotions more than memories.

And growing up in Belfast this scenario was more than unusual, there weren’t many other male single parent households with three children.

While explaining things as they were I also have to stress that my Mum was very much on the scene, all the time.

She moved out but we saw her everyday after school when she would pick us up and we would spend the afternoons and evenings with her before she dropped us off home.

And us kids all had dreams of our parents reuniting and looking back on it now I love the naivety and belief in our parents and being our parents and marriage that made us think there was any chance of them getting back together.

I don’t know at what point we learnt to lie, while still having this unfounded belief, to each parent about whatever.

For example Dad would give out about Mum and we wouldn’t say. Or vice-versa. This went on and on.

I loved growing up in an all-male household, looking back I thought nothing at all of it, now I think my God.

But I always missed the connection of having my Mum in the house where I lived and not away. There was never any question of being made to choose, thank God, but I wanted her nearer than she was, as close as she was.

So I hatched a plan.

I had been doing gymnastics for a while at this stage and was not good at all, but that did not bother me. I loved it.

I joined loads of clubs and gymnastics was one, I so wanted to be good. So while I was relatively sporty and pretty good at most that I turned my hand to but I was absolutely useless at gymnastics.

Before you could join the Squad you had to be able to do the splits. I could barely follow through on a forward roll.

Unless you showed natural talent you were pretty much left to jump about really, oh and hold your tummy in. (At least I learnt something useful.)

Ironically I did my first cartwheel as an adult, can’t really explain that except for the knowledge that I wouldn’t break my neck on a grassy surface might have spurned me on some as a grown up.

So I never got to join the squad but I did get to participate in the gymnastics school’s section of the Youth Club’s parents’ night.

And I decided that I would invite both my parents while preparing the groundwork before hand.

All the different clubs were performing on the night, the choir, the judo club, there was all sorts of activities and displays going on that night.

Now bear in mind both my parents attended things just separately and on the very ew occasions they were together they kept an unhealthy and not to mention stony distance between each other.

In fact they were forced to sit together at my First Communion by my teacher who I think believed she could reunite them by continually putting me at the end of the pew because I was doing a reading, however my parents kept placing me in between them defeating her efforts.

And that’s the only time I remember them being in the same place during those years. Until the night of the parents’ night that is.

Our gymnastics display was going to be the business. It would consist of a row of forward rolls, backward rolls, cartwheels, round-off backflips (I still remember the lingo), a row of back flips culminating in our star gymnast on the bars doing all sorts of wow manoeuvres and all at the same time.

So I did my row of forward rolls and prepared to shimmy around the back to do another row only the coach grabbed me and told me to do your backward rolls and I said ‘I can’t’.

“You can, do it.”

“I CAN’T.”

“DO IT.”

So I thought to myself ‘you want backward rolls, you are gonna get them’.

As I haunched down and began the roll backwards, great, then I promptly rolled on my side. Up I got, hands to heaven and did it again, rolling over and falling onto my side, about six or seven times until I completed the stretch across the hall.

By this point the whole hall was in stitches, breaking themselves laughing. But I did not care because I saw my Dad open the gym door for my Mum and I was happy.

And even on the couple of occasions where kids I didn’t know would come up to me and say ‘you’re that kid who thinks she can do gymnastics!?!’

Yup that’s kinda me, but well I never claimed to be able to do a backward roll. And I never cared because I did better than the actual gymnast doing all the amazing dismounts at the back.

And they did get back together for a couple of years anyway but that’s another story.


omaniblog said...

I never knew you're from Belfast. I guess I missed. Now that I think about it, I remember all those wonderful photos of Belfast. So I did know you're from Belfast. But I forgot. So keen was I on your Dublin photos that I pushed out of mind that you are a northerner. Now i'm having an "ah-ha" experience: that's where you get your grit...

Fabulous story. I'd love a bit more about what exactly happened between your parents while you were tumbling...

Red Mum said...

I don't know what was happening as I did my backward rolls, I was too busy concentrating:)

Paige A Harrison said...

Beautiful post, Red Mum. It's a shame Nick Hornby stole it for his "About A Boy".

Boliath said...

More more more, I can picture you doing the backward rolls :c) I know you have a million stories about your Mum & Dad, I've heard a few but would love to hear more.

aoife said...

That was a really lovely honest post - I really enjoyed it.