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Udi Urman Headshot

Crashing Their Dreams With Style

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In the spirit of the Olympic Games, I registered my son to a gymnastics class. Since he is 3-years-old now, a quick calculation led me to realize that by the Olympic Games of 2028, he can win his first gold medal in men's floor exercise. By the first date of class, we already bought a few outfits, a gym bag and he had been off of sweets for already two days. Nothing will take the Olympic dream away from me, well, aside from a young boy who unfortunately is not that good at gymnastics.

All gossip magazines last month were concentrating on the Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorce, and all of them showed Katie (and a week later Tom) taking Suri to her gymnastic class at the same place my son is now going. "There it is," I told my partner with tears. "If it's good for Suri, there is no way it won't be good enough for me" -- my son, that is. Katie and I will sit together at the balcony and watch our kids tumbling while I give her the recipe for my mother's chicken soup.

But back to sports: the facilities look so professional and I couldn't wait to see his somersaults and double back-hand springs, after all, he is already a champ on the playground. He runs faster than his friends, and jumps higher, so basically he has all the physical requirements to be a professional athlete. And then the class began.

At first I thought it was just the warm-up, but as minutes pass I realized that something is wrong, and surprisingly something is not going as planned. It wasn't the fact that he didn't jump or run fast. He even listened to and followed instructions. Instead, it was the lack of finesse. All the movements were too strong and too aggressive. "He is a bit all over the place," the teacher explained to me after the class.

This leads me to asking, is finesse a necessary tool for life? And where do I teach him such a thing? Is there a class at the 92nd Y? I think not. In some circles I am considered to have royalty style etiquette. Is this not hereditary? Is my Olympic dream over now, all because of someone who couldn't leap like Gabrielle Douglas, or at least show a promising foundation for such a future?

I tried to consult with the one who knows it all -- my friend Google -- and I asked him, "What do I need to do to make my son an Olympic gold medal winner?" His answer was brutal: At any given moment there are 125,000 kids practicing in the country in top elite gymnastics programs. Only four of them will make it. I went back to the Olympic broadcasts and tried to figure out if maybe there are better sports for him. After watching countless hours of sports (who knew that rifle shooting is now considered an Olympic sport), I realized that finesse is part of the package. No matter how defined your six-pack, if you don't have the perfect combination of Hercules and the prima-ballerina, these games are not for you. I look at the girl practicing with my son; each of her moves has a swan-style attached to it. I looked at her mother cheering and was thinking to myself, "Such a stage mother, give the child some air -- she is only three."

Although my initial goal for my son's sports career was to show him that as long as we practice, we can achieve whatever we want... but then I decided to pull the plug on gymnastics. Yes, just like that. He can jump and run on the playground with no $450 fee for 10 classes. Don't get me wrong though -- I am still full of ambition for my child and with no hesitation, I have already registered him for piano class. And yet again before his first class, I must admit that I have already looked at the admissions requirements for Julliard. After all, he has the fingers of a pianist.