What did I fear most as a kid? I was afraid to be smart. Of course I was set aside as smart with another kid and we got to read real books, in the back of the classroom, years earlier than other students older than me.
I do not know what happened to my reading companion after that but we enjoyed studying different books together at the back of the classroom. We were made May Queen and May King for Mayfest in 2nd grade. That was a degree of notoriety I never intended. Reading and understanding and crying at home reading Death Be Not Proud was not something my fellow students wanted to know or learn. They were learning phonics, and S and I had already known how to read for years. We learned to read early and I taught my sister when she was four. Our parents fought ITA, phonics, for smart kids who were already reading 2+ years ahead.
Sitting in the back of the classroom, the new teacher, first day, would butcher my name. I’d raise my hand and give them my nickname as they were not smart enough to master my given name. They didn’t care, nor did my parents for giving me the name. I did. I was a little kid with a big name. It was scary to raise my hand from the back of the room and say “call me Dee.” I love it now but still everyone calls me Dee.
They always put me in the front of the class, front of the grades until later when… that comes later.
I was always so shy. I did not raise my hand so was called on and always knew the answer. Now the Olympics are on the television and I got to see bits of W0mens’ gymnastic vaults and uneven bars. This was a passion I’ve had since before you were born. Olga Korbut, Nadia the perfect 10.
When my family moved to a new city it was summer and I was 15. I tried out for the gymnastics team before the season/school and made it. Then I was immediately made captain. I had been at an elite public school (ever seen the movie about the trouncing of my alma mater in football by TC Williams? Ask Denzel Washington about it as we were G.C .Marshall.)
I was a much better captain than gymnast. That’s why I like to think young girls like me made a new sport better by caring about it and trying to do better tricks than Olga Korbut could do in the seventies, and even the first ten Nadia who brought down everything in her brilliance.
Now I don’t even understand the scoring mechanisms and new rules but have loved seeing womens’ vault and uneven bars competitions. They are so beautiful, I could cry.
As a captain there are duties, leadership responsibilities, education. Foremost are inspiration, aspiration (life goals) and I believe there is kindness to others. These are high school kids. I’m captain of a ship my younger sister is on who wants me to fail every moment and this is high school.
It was difficult. I led some elite gymnasts and taught others. I taught one team-mate humility after she wanted to leave the State Finals after her own performance. I said her team was there for her, the best gymnast in our school, all along and we deserved her support until the end of the meet.
In the locker room I said unless she did this for her team, as the captain, she’s off the team as of now and I’ll tell our coach and she’ll tell the judges her captain says she’s off the team immediately and she will not win anything.
Guess who was in the stands cheering her team-mates? She won her award. I finally spoke out. These mates have been cheering you on all season. You have to cheer us on as well. She did it.
I know she did not do it for her team as she didn’t have a team except herself. She wanted the award but her team-mates needed to know she was there for them. I made sure that happened for them, not for her. No-one knew except me and Coach, as I had to ask if I could strip her of her medal, and I hope this helps our old team and coach, and haunts her even now.
After 11 I need to go to bed because I’ll know what I missed and and have been up for nearly 17 hours because of family duties, tomorrow, friends, cheers from Dee