As a child, I feared doing somersaults. It looked simple, sure. I tried it a few times and didn’t find it all that much fun and felt a little loopy afterwards; though my biggest fear was breaking my neck.
My worst nightmare materialized in 7th grade gym class. One would think that my days of somersaults were long over, but no. It was announced one day in class that the very next week we would do tumbling for two weeks. What????????????????
My brain raced…I could not do this. How in the world can I get out of this?
After class was over, I quietly approached Coach Shelley and asked if I could speak to her for a moment.
“What’s up?” she asked.
“Um, I won’t be able to participate in tumbling. Can I shoot baskets or something while everyone else tumbles?”
“Why can’t you participate? I can’t have you shooting baskets…the mats are spread out all over the gym floor.”
I couldn’t tell this poor woman that I was afraid I might break my neck, I’m pretty sure she already thought I was a fruitcake (it involves a shot put and my middle finger…a story for another day) and that wouldn’t help my case at all.
“Coach Shelley, let me be honest and up front with you. I really don’t have a good reason to get out of tumbling, but please know, that with every ounce of my being, I do not wish to participate and I am willing to do anything to get out of it.”
She studied my face for a moment. I think she could tell I meant what I was saying with all my heart.
“Have your mom write me a note excusing you from tumbling. You will spend gym class in the library doing reports on topics I give you. Ok?”
Are you kidding???? That was more than ok. Now, I just had to get my mom to write me the note…piece of cake.
“Why don’t you want to tumble, Chanin?’
“I just don’t, ok? Please just write the note,” I whined.
Here is the note my mom wrote:
Please excuse Chanin from PE while you are doing tumbling. She refuses to try tumbling and would prefer to spend her time in the library.
While I do not agree with her choice, I will respect her decision.
Please note the dreams of raising my daughter to be an Olympic gold medalist like the great Mary Lou Retton, have now been forever dashed, leaving me greatly disappointed and sad. I will now turn my Olympic hopes to her younger sister and pray she too doesn’t disappoint me.
Clarissa (Chanin’s Mom)
“Mom, I am not giving this to Coach Shelley, this is embarrassing!”
“Then I guess you will be doing flips all over the gym.”
With my head hung low, I approached Coach Shelley with my note. She took it into her office while I waited outside. I heard her laughing and laughing. She came out and headed across the hall to the boy’s PE coach and let him read it. They were both cracking up.
She came over to me and said, “Ok, you will spend the hour in the library doing reports. The reports will be two pages long and your first subject is Mary Lou Retton.”