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Elise had her first jump rope competition this weekend. She was participating just for the experience to see what competition is like. She is in a competitive age bracket with lots of girls who have been jumping much longer than she has, so she wasn't in a position to medal. That kept some of the pressure off, but we both had nerves wound as tight as the braids on her head that morning at 7:00 when we left the house.
The first events of the day were speed - male and female single rope speed (60 seconds), male and female endurance speed (3 minutes), male and female triple unders, single rope speed relay, double dutch speed relay, and double dutch pairs speed. Who knew there were so many different ways to do speed? The floor looks like this during the speed events with up to 12 athletes jumping at the same time. In each section, three judges count each time the jumper's right foot hits the floor.
Elise was only entered in the female single rope speed event. She started out smooth, consistent, and fast. You can hardly see the ropes during the speed events. They jump with coated steel wire ropes which are nearly invisible once they get moving.
Unfortunately, about 40 seconds into it, she landed on the side of her foot, twisting her ankle. It hurt me just watching it. I knew it must have hurt her. Somehow, she managed to compose herself and finish out the minute, but she came limping off the court crying at the end. We treated the ankle with ice and ibuprofen and treated the disappointment over a lousy speed score with hugs. Fortunately, she had a couple hours to relax, ice her ankle, and get a snack before she needed to jump again.
Freestyle went much better. She flubbed a rope release trick and accidentally omitted one section of the routine, but overall, she was happy with her performance. The day definitely had its ups and downs, but she says she definitely wants to compete again, so I would call it a success.
Here is the video of her day:
Since her double dutch partners did not enter this competition, Elise was done after single rope freestyle and could relax the rest of the day anxiety-free and enjoy watching her teammates compete.
In the afternoon, spirits sank as one of our team members was seriously injured. One of the most talented athletes on the team (the only one on our team who qualified for the FISAC World Championships in a singles event) was in the practice gym doing a move he has probably done thousands of times, a mule kick. It involves basically diving into this position:
I'm still not clear on exactly what happened, but something went horribly wrong. Imagine that move without the hands in place. He came crashing down on his head and face and was knocked unconscious. When we came to, he was dazed and had amnesia. His double dutch teammates were crying and felt responsible. Our coaches were shell-shocked and trying to hold back tears. He is a sweet, popular kid on the team and one of the team mentors. Elise has taken private lessons from him, and everyone on the team, both parents and athletes were upset and in shock. When the ambulance arrived, the EMTs initially said they were going to take him to the local hospital but after examining him, decided to take him to the big hospital with a trauma center. As much as we all tried to keep our smiling competition faces on, he was the main focus in everyone's minds.
I credit the coaches and kids though with finding a way to bounce back. The top 5 teams in each division advance to nationals. In the double dutch division that this team would have competed in, there were six teams competing, so without A, they couldn't have qualified for nationals. USA Jump Rope gave the team permission to substitute another jumper for A and jump in the last double dutch heat. That gave them about 15 minutes to teach another jumper A's part in the double dutch routine. They only had to beat one team to advance. The two athletes who had been turning for A when he fell had to wipe away their tears and focus back on jump rope. The three of them went out on the floor laughing, having no idea if they could pull it off. They did. It was amazing. I think adrenaline kicked in, and they jumped their hearts out for A. They finished 3rd or 4th and qualified to move on to nationals. A ended up being released from the hospital late that night with a concussion and mild hernia in the neck. I'm not sure how long his recovery will take, but we were all glad to hear he was back home.
It was a long, draining, emotional day but a lot of fun too. Elise is excited to do more competitions, and I think it will be less stressful now that we know what to expect. I loved watching all the amazing talent in the room, and look forward to going to another one. This is the best team picture I got. It was one of those, "Fifteen different cameras are taking pictures and every kid is looking at a different one" sort of photos. It is a great group of kids.
I often find myself yelling at celebrities in People magazine, "Why are you wearing Uggs with shorts?" I know. I shouldn't yell at magazines. That's not the point though. If it is warm enough for shorts, why on earth would someone want fuzzy sheepskin boots on their feet? Don't their feet sweat? Don't the boots stink? I've just never understood that look. Apparently Addie gets it though.
Doesn't she look all "Paparazzi stopped me on the way into the movie theater in L.A. where I'm meeting up with my BFF, Suri Cruise" here? (Ignore the cell phone photo quality.) As a regular watcher of Project Runway, The Rachel Zoe Project, and Fashion Star, I should say that she is "on trend". I feel like an idiot saying that though. What is wrong with saying that something or someone is "in style"? Why has that term been banished from the world of fashion reality TV and replaced with "on trend"?
So many questions, so few answers...
I was fortunate to get to chaperone Elise's field trip to the coast on Friday. I know the teachers sometimes feel like they are pulling teeth to get volunteers for events, but this trip is really popular. People jump at the chance to chaperone. I was fascinated that easily half of them were dads. I can't imagine ANY dad ever chaperoning a field trip when I was a kid. What a great improvement in society that is! Initially, I didn't sign up quick enough, and all the chaperone spots were full. Somebody dropped out though, so I lucked into going.
We showed up at the crack of dawn to load the bus. Some of the car-driving parents poked fun at those of us who chose to ride the bus. I still can't figure out why they felt like they made the better choice. They spent easily $50 in gas to drive themselves to the coast and back while I paid $10 to sit in a comfy bus, read a book, watch a movie, or sleep. It seems like a no-brainer to me. The kids were great. They quietly listened to iPods or watched the movie.
We arrived at the U.S.S. North Carolina battleship with weather that couldn't have been more perfect.
As we toured it, I asked Elise to think about what it might have been like to live on one of these ships during WWII. Her great-grandfather was stationed on a carrier in the Pacific, so she got a feel for what his life might have been like.
Elise must have been going for some sort of Ashton Kutcher trucker hat look.
After the battleship (and spending too much time in the gift shop), we had a nice picnic lunch on the waterfront in Wilmington.
Our next adventure was a boat ride over to Masonboro Island. The marine life educators who ran this part of the tour were fantastic. I decided that over the years, they must have figured out every trick for giving tours to fourth graders. Their presentations and organization were flawless.
While on the island, we collected shells, learned about marsh critters, and did some crabbing.
At the end of the day, we took the boat back, got on the buses with smiles on our faces, and relaxed on the way home (or those who drove had to stay awake to drive while I peacefully slept on the bus!).
Have you seen the Caine's Arcade video yet? If not, it is a must-see. (It is at the bottom of this post.) I love this kid, and more than that, I love his dad. Kids are so spoiled these days (mine included) with iPods, iPads, Wiis, and 24/7 cartoons that it just seems to suck the creativity out of them. Caine's childhood reminds me more of my own. One summer, all the kids in the neighborhood decided we were going to build a car. Imagine Fred Flintstone's car built with scrap lumber, a million nails, paint, and old roller skate or skateboard wheels, and you have a pretty good picture of it. We spent hours every day from sun up to sun down in the stifling Texas heat in my parents' carport building that thing. My mom's poor car tires suffered more than one puncture wound from the nails we left scattered hither and yon. She just patched the tires and let us keep going though. We were out of her hair, out of her house, and using every bit of creativity, teamwork, and determination that we had. After the car's short maiden voyage where we realized our engineering of the wheels really didn't work out so well, we turned the car into a lemonade stand. How's that for making lemonade out of a lemon?
I try to foster that environment for my girls. I kick them outside with the neighbors and tell them they have to play outside. When Addie and I are taking our weekend siestas, the girls know they aren't allowed in the house unless someone is bleeding. They always manage to entertain themselves - usually with bikes, scooters, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, dancing, and friends. They have yet to build anything the scope of a car or arcade though. Perhaps I need to enforce more boredom? We had enough cardboard from broken down Girl Scout cookie boxes that they probably could have built Six Flags if they had been inspired.
Perhaps next time they claim they are bored or ask to watch TV, I'll hand them some packing tape, empty boxes, scrap wood, a box of nails, and a hammer, and tell them to go away. I'd love to see the results. I know somewhere under the layers of Lady Gaga lyrics, Temple Run high scores, and iCarly quotes, there are children with big dreams, endlessly creative minds, and boundless optimism that only children have.
Here is the Caine's Arcade video. It will make you smile, make you cry, and make you wish you hadn't bought your kid that handheld video game.
A few days ago, Elise's teacher sent an email to parents about a homework assignment. The kids were to either watch the news, read the newspaper, or talk to their parents about current events. She suggested topics like the economy and presidential election. That evening, Elise and I watched a few clips on cnn.com, and then we talked. We talked about Romney, Gingrich, Obama, Santorum, Republicans, Democrats, voting, the economy, mortgages, foreclosures, unemployment, the war in Afghanistan, the killing of innocent Afghan people by a US soldier, and post traumatic stress syndrome in soldiers. I thought we did a pretty good job of covering all the big current event topics.
The next day, she was to write a poem about a current event. While politics, the economy, or war wouldn't necessarily be my first choice subject if I was writing poetry, it was her assignment, not mine. I'm just happy to be out of school and in a job that doesn't require any poetry writing.
Yesterday, we had a parent-teacher conference with Elise's teacher, and I asked Elise to show me her poetry journal. I wanted to see which of these serious topics she had chosen for her current events poem.
This was it. It is Haiku (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables).
Star turns twenty-six.
The same age as Mrs. L.
She is a singer.
Mortgages? Obama? Afghanistan? Romney?
Lady Gaga's birthday. I guess I need to broaden my definition of "current events", huh?