When I was twelve I used to stand on one of those large, military green electric boxes in a front yard next to my bus stop. I would do front flips off of it with my friends until the bus came, or until our leg muscles began to give way and we had to zombie crawl up the bus steps to our seats.
It seems that if I were dead set on becoming a gymnast, I should have decided then. At twenty-six it seems that my only physical claim to fame is being able to do a fake back bend by turning my toes out and making my thighs do all the work. Well, that and I can wiggle my ears one at a time. Both of these pale in comparison to the death-defying feats performed by the gymnastics team I invited to come teach the kids this Monday. The girl above couldn't have been older than 15, and she did this without breaking a sweat, batting an eye, or vomiting up her own intestines.
Even our kids, who had no gymnastics training whatsoever, were leaping around the equipment. While I could make the common comparison of monkeys swinging from limb to limb, that only covers the kids who performed a series of flips for the talent show last week. I choose to instead compare the scene in the gym to an entire colony of zoo monkeys surrounded by a smattering of trainers trying to achieve various levels of order. Some of the monkeys were obviously at the top of the pecking order, while the non-dominant ones seemed to resign themselves to watching, and meek attempts at headstands. Meanwhile the beta males were showing off their own prowess (to whom I'm not exactly sure) by hurling themselves at the floor with a flurry of limbs in a vain attempt to garner attention. ...They mostly just got hurt a lot.
But monkey havoc or not, I miss having that magickal flexibility that can only come with a complete lack of concern about bodily harm. I suppose that by twenty-six, you learn that falling can hurt. And after being married to a roller derby ref for almost four years, you learn that there are so many painful ways to fall. Between snapping photos I was bold enough to give my camera to one of our 6th graders, and she was kind enough to catch my own slightly difficult, if not death-defying, feat.