My Daughter at the Gymnastics Party
By David Bottoms
When I sat for a moment in the bleachers
of the lower-school gym
to watch, one by one, the girls of my daughter’s kindergarten
climb the fat rope hung over the Styrofoam pit,
I remembered my sweet exasperated mother
and those shifting faces of injury
that followed me like an odor to ball games and practices,
playgrounds of monkey bars
and trampolines, those wilted children sprouting daily
in that garden of trauma behind her eyes.
Then Rachel’s turn,
the smallest child in class, and up she went, legs twined
on the rope, ponytail swinging, fifteen, twenty,
twenty-five feet, the pink tendrils of her leotard
climbing without effort
until she’d cleared the lower rafters.
She looked down, then up, hanging in that balance
of pride and fear,
toward the bleachers to see if I watched, let go
her left hand, unworried by that boy
with the waffled skull, stiff and turning blue
under the belly of a horse,
or the Christmas Eve skater on Cagle’s Lake,
her face a black plum
against the bottom of the ice.
My Monday was a Monday, meaning laundry got done, work got started, chores got dealt with, and not a lot that was exciting happened except on TV where we had the Olympics on most of the day (go look up "NBC Olympics" pretty much anywhere if you want my opinion of the coverage itself). Apart from taking Maddy to and from the home where she's house- and cat-sitting, I didn't get out much.
Christine came over to see Adam in the evening, where after dinner we all watched some water polo, a lot of swimming, some volleyball -- indoor and beach -- and not nearly enough men's gymnastics (we already knew the result and were betting that if NBC were not Team USA-obsessed, we'd have seen a lot more at a decent hour). Some photos from the Adventure Aquarium in Camden yesterday: