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"The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul." ~ G. K. Chesterton





"Time at the Top"  by LouAnn Edwards


It was Saturday morning and I had three short hours to get ready for visiting in-laws. I begged seven year old Kelley to let her daddy take her to gymnastics class but she tugged on my shirt pleading “Please mom, watch me one more time!” I needed to walk on the treadmill. I needed to get the dishes done. I needed to get my old toenail polish off. You know…important stuff. The truth is, as the youngest of six, the poor child is getting the “burnt out mom” that had already sat through 20 years of watching kids take lessons. I have hung over barriers at freezing ice rinks, swatted bees at horse stables, glued five miles of sequins on tap shoes and politely applauded during three-hour Kazoo assemblies. As my teenagers would say “I’m so done with that.” Only I wasn’t done, and I clearly was not getting out of this. I grabbed a book on the way out the door, vowing to sneak in some reading time so my morning wouldn’t be wasted.


Peering through the door, I watched as the teacher led the student’s to a giant rope swing hanging in the corner of the gym. Now, maybe I grew up watching too many Westerns but a swinging rope did not seem like a good thing to be led to. But then again…what do I know about gymnastics? The kids were to choose between riding on the rope with the teacher swinging them back and forth or climbing up the thick twine while she steadied it at the bottom. One after another, each child in line chose to ride. Then it was Kelley’s turn—the youngest and tiniest in the class. Smiling broadly, she eyed the top of the ceiling and confidently announced she would climb. Blond ponytail swinging, she scooted and pulled, proudly climbing higher and higher. Then it happened. About half way up the teacher loudly warned: “Don’t go up any farther than you’re able to come down.”


Kelley halted…then slowly shimmied down all the way to the floor, her small hands releasing their grip. I knew my little gymnast was headed to the top of that rope and was perfectly capable of reaching it. Why did she stop?  I questioned her on the way home.


“Kelley, could you have climbed all the way to the top?"


“Yes” she quietly replied.


“Then why didn’t you keep going?”




“Was it because of what the teacher said?” I pressed.


She nodded.


Hmm. My mom brain sprang into action, knowing it was supposed to pull out those well used words of wisdom for times like this. If I could just make my easily confused memory bank pick the right one.  Let’s see…what was it?  “Never get in a car with boys you just met in the Tilta Whirl line” I started. Wait—that was for her older sister at the carnival.  “Always wear helmets when riding in shopping carts to the dining hall.” I tried again. No, no… that was for her twin brothers in college. Then I finally got it right.


“Kelley, don’t let anybody make you doubt yourself. Don’t ever let anyone keep you from knowing what you can do…even it they seem bigger, or smarter or older. Will you remember that?” She nodded obediently.

To think I had almost missed that opportunity, that moment to teach…”killing time” for what I feared would be a boring hour. I guess I was the one who needed a lesson that day. I glanced down at the title of the book I had been so anxious to read and had to laugh at the irony of the title: See You At The Top, by Zig Zigler.


Of course, there’s always a chance I’ll get to read it next week…in line for the Tilta Whirl.




LouAnn Edwards  copyright 2007

LouAnn Edwards is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and six children in Portland, Oregon. Catch her between lessons at


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