My daughter Lucy is going to a birthday party today and she’s a little anxious about it. She’s excited to see her friends and have some cake, but you see, it’s a gynastics party. She won’t tell me exactly why that worries her but I think I already know. Lucy can’t do a cartwheel, which is no big surprise since I can’t do a cartwheel either. Never have and I guess, never will.
I thought I could learn at one point. There was a girl at my school who could do jumps and flips all across our gym floor. She looked so strong and sleek when she did it, I just HAD to give it a try. Mom signed me up for gymnastics, but I quit after two lessons. I remember how HARD the instructors worked with me and how loudly they cheered after my first somersault. It was embarassing because even I knew that gravity would kick in eventually and pull me over. Mom didn’t complain when I asked if I could stop the classes, either. She probably looked at my basketball-shaped-body and understood why gymnastics would never happen for me.
I got older and the list of other things I couldn’t do got longer. I couldn’t ski (on snow or water) or play softball or volleyball. I never learned how to braid a fishtail, play tennis, or drive a jet-ski. I can’t even properly throw a frisbee. Don’t throw one to me because it will just come bouncing back. My big sister would stare at me dumbfounded and say, “What are you going to DO? How can you expect to go on without knowing this stuff? What if your friends want to go water skiing? What will you do THEN?”
It scared the CRAP out of me when she said that because I had NO IDEA what I would do! Fake it? Cry? Set myself on fire, maybe?
But…I guess I made it. I mean, I’ve reached middle-age (probaby beyond, given my family tree) and never had friends pick on me for NOT knowing how to ski. My husband thinks it’s pretty funny when I try to throw a frisbee but I’ve never been laughed off a volleyball court for not knowing how to play. And I’ve never once in my life thought, “If only I’d been able to do a cartwheel.”
So Lucy, I’m sorry you can’t do a cartwheel but you come by that inability naturally. I know it sucks NOW but before long, no one will ever ask you to do a cartwheel again. Your life will be filled with things you CAN DO though, and you should brag about those things frequently. I still can’t ski but I can bake a chicken pot pie and make all my own salad dressings. I still cower and close my eyes when I play volleyball but I’m great at cleaning up a red wine stain. And NO, I still can’t do a cartwheel but I gave birth to two little babies who are perfect in every way. Well, except they also can’t do cartwheels.