I love the story Shawn Johnson's mom, Teri, tells about how her daughter got her start in gymnastics.
At age 3, her adorable little girl just couldn't sit still, so her mom enrolled her in gymnastics to, you know, wear her out, so to speak.
I can totally relate to Teri's story. I, too, have a little one who just can't sit still.
Molly, our 4 year-old daughter, has been in constant motion since she was in utero. During my pregnancy, during a routine ultrasound, my husband and I watched as Molly did back flips in my belly, repeatedly kicking and punching her twin brother in the process. I should have known.
But there's no way I could have known she'd be the earliest crawler, walker, jumper, climber. No, I couldn't have predicted that she'd scale whatever bookshelf, closet organizer, mantel, kitchen counter she came across. And I certainly never thought she'd have the fight and determination of someone five times her young age and at least twice her size.
Taking all of this into account, last year I enrolled Molly at Chow's Gymnastics. I knew from the first day of class that I had made the right decision. Watching from the balcony, I could see Molly listening intently to her instructor, doing whatever she she was asked to do - and some things she was told not to. By the end of the year, that girl was ready for the big leagues...or maybe just the next level.
Despite spending almost every Saturday at Chow's for the past eight months, I was surprised that we hadn't ever seen Shawn. While she and my daughter weren't exactly sharing a balance beam at practice, I thought for sure we'd get a glimpse of her heading to or from the gym or maybe even just stopping in to say, "hi," to all her adoring fans.
Frankly, I was disappointed. I wanted Molly to know who Shawn Johnson was if for no other reason than to have someone to look up to. I thought if she'd seen her in action, she'd fall in love with the idea of who she too could become - a great gymnast.
Of course, what I didn't realize was, like everything else in our lives, Molly was two steps ahead of all of us. She knew who Shawn Johnson was and even Gabby Douglas. She saw the signs on the windows wishing them luck at Nationals; she saw their photos plastered on every wall; she even once spotted Shawn at SuperTarget ("Mom! It's Hans Johnson!," she screamed.)
And while we were all more than a little disappointed that we wouldn't see Shawn in the summer games this year, we were elated that Gabby Douglas would be there. After all, she's an Iowan, if only by address, and she represents of the kind of gymnasts Chow's Gymnastics helps create.
I know there's a lot of other moms out there who feel the same way I do. I know because I stood in line with them this week to register my girls for the fall semester at Chow's. There were dozens of them all with that glint in the eye that said, "You know what? Maybe my daughter could be the next Shawn Johnson or Gabby Douglas."
And you know what? In a place like West Des Moines and in a gym like Chow's, anything is possible.