I TOOK my little girl, Gidg, on a perfect ‘little girl day out’ last weekend to watch rhythmic gymnastics in Andratx. Our local sports centre was filled to the rafters with little girls wearing glittery leotards and sporting elaborate hairdos glued into position with at least a can of hairspray each. They ranged in age from about 5 years old to mid-teens, with the younger ones looking super cute in their outfits, and the older ones looking, well, a tad uncomfortable really as they were filling those leotards, if you know what I mean.
The kids were all there to compete in the regional qualifiers for the Balearic Islands, and the standard seemed to be extremely high. Gidg and I were there to support a friend of ours, Allison from Salon Bling in Palma Nova, and her little girl Sophie, who is part of the Costazul Calvia team from El Toro. It sounds a bit Victorian, but I think children entering competitions is a really important part of their development. I don’t agree with those ‘nobody loses’ type of party games, because life isn’t like that.
Although it is tough for children, my one at least, to learn how to handle losing, and it’s tough for the parents, me at least, to put them in that position where they may fail, I still think it’s a vital process to go through. There was a fraught and emotional afternoon a few months ago which involved a session of musical chairs at a kid’s party, Gidg (who’d managed to get down to the last two skipping around the chair) had ultimately lost and was completely inconsolable at not bagging the prize. Not a pretty sight, but that’s okay, we both made it through that life lesson.
So I think it’s impressive to see groups of kids, entering competitions, being judged and learning that sometimes they have to work harder to improve themselves. Gidg on the other hand was fascinated by the sparkly outfits that all of the kids were wearing, and very jealous of the elaborate eye makeup. All of the kids who were competing seemed to be enjoying themselves, as much for being part of a team as the actual performance, and it was wonderful to watch them solemnly line up for their ‘good luck’ kisses from their trainers, and the huge hugs and praise they all received afterwards for just getting out there and trying to do their best. Sophie and her teammates presented a complicated routine.
I don’t know much about gymnastics (I was built for comfort rather than speed) but I could see how much practice and preparation had gone into creating the performance. Allison had told me about the painstaking application of sequins to leotards, and how complicated it had been, and about the four practice sessions Sophie attended every week, so it was very satisfying to see them being awarded first place in their group. Onwards and upwards. Another of life’s lessons learnt.
By Vicki McLeod