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gymgal

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@gymgal - Great perspective. Did you ever question your daughter’s stated love of gymnastics? I sometimes wonder if, for my DD, it’s the friendships and personal identity as a gymnast (more than the sport itself) that keep her going back for more. For example, she zero interest in backyard gymnastics or even watching it on TV. Oh, and interesting take on preteen “growth” being about more than inches! Thanks
For my dd, it was definitely the love of gymnastics but very much like your dd in the sense that she was never one to practice skills at home. And while she liked watching the Olympics and going to our local college meets, she never watched other teams on TV. She had gym friends and her best friends over the years were teammates, but when she was at practice, it was to train, not to socialize. That "personal identity as a gymnast" really hits home though. She often said things like "If I leave gymnastics, what would I do?" As she grew, and realized that L10 could be a possibility, that was her push through the bad times - that was her goal. When she achieved it, then college became the next goal.
 
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raenndrops

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I was going to say something similar to this.
For growth spurts - it is not just height. She could be gaining a little weight which is completely normal but will affect her abilities. It can also be the hormones behind the scene that are revving up, causing changes in bones/muscles/tendons - not to mention all that go with those hormones, which often is an increase in fears and decrease in confidence.
For both OG and YG, before the "visible" growth spurts, they had "invisible" ones. The invisible ones were just as hard on them gymnastically as the growing 3 inches in 4 months! And when the bones start to grow, but the tendons and ligaments aren't ready to grow yet, it can cause problems. YG went from being really close to having her splits all the way down to a month later, not being anywhere close ... and when she went into them, you could see how tight the LCL ligament was ... and it wasn't from lack of stretching.
One day, 2 of the coaches and I were watching it and before she got to the point where she couldn't go any farther, and we actually saw the ligament "shaking" and she pushed through that. She couldn't explain what she felt and she got frustrated.

@CLgym be on the lookout, she could shoot up any minute now. She will be fine. She still likes gymnastics so that's a positive thing for her. Hugs!!
 
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GYM0M

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This might sound crazy, but COVID shutdown last year was incredibly beneficial for my Josc. She had a rough couple of years, not without successes, but big struggles often with no payout. It took me a while to spot the signs, but I eventually realized she was stuck in the pre-pubescent vs maturing hormone struggle cycle. I, too, took a break from not only CB, but gymnastics in general. I was angry with the sport and what it was taking from my DD. I was tired of watching her struggle and be disappointed over and over. However, over the shutdown, she grew a little, gained a little weight, & FINALLY topped that hill!!! She, like many of us, hates the inconvenience of the regulating visits, but will certainly acknowledge a change in her demeanor and the quality of her gym time has greatly improved. She’s back to working because she loves it, not working to love it. It is possible your DD is entering or is in this same rollercoaster. These girls are typically more aware of their bodies and know when something feels different even if they can’t put a finger on what it actually is. Maybe try talking to her about her body and the changes she might be experiencing physically, mentally, & emotionally. Let her know that hormones are nasty little boogers and can make you feel a wide range of emotions that often cannot be explained and make any situation more stressful and escalate quickly. And that she’s NOT alone.....that every pre-teen/teen is going through it!! I remember when my son started entering that world. He was arguing with his sisters about something silly, like a pencil or whatever, & he started to boohoo cry. I asked him why he was so upset. He replied, between snubs, “I don’t know!!” I laughed and told him that it was his hormones and they were playing with him. The tears stopped and with the most inquisitive face in the world, he asked, “Are you sure?” Hahahaha!! Never gonna forget that one! Just hang in there & support her. She’ll figure it out, one way or the other. Do I think your 1st gym’s stereotyping is coming to fruition? Absolutely not, the ball is still in her court....she’s probably setting up for that 3 pointer!!! Oh and ftr, you are not alone either. I cannot count how many times I’ve wanted to say, “Let’s let go of this pipe dream (National Team/Olympics),” but i realized I would be asking her to do something for MY benefit. I don’t enjoy the road less traveled......
 

gymisforeveryone

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That's it right there. She must be very scared to fail. I have seen this pattern many times. Avoiding stations that they think they are going to fail is very common. And when the coaches notice that gymnasts are skipping stations, they usually get mad and tell the gymnasts they are lazy or something. The gymnasts think they are not lazy, which makes them maybe angry or anxious, because they don't know how to tell the coaches the real reason for skipping and they don't know what else to do. They might not want to embarrass themselves in front of the team mates, or they are afraid that the coaches get disappointed or frustrated with them when they don't do as well as they used to do. It's much easier to just do the bail stations or what ever new they are learning, because EVERYONE is new to those drills and it's much more acceptable to fail on those, because you are not even supposed to be able to do it on your own. You get praise, push and cheer on those stations, which make you feel good. I would encourage her to speak to her coaches. Just tell them about how she feels about the skills that she's having trouble with. Maybe write down the feeling that go through her head when she's preparing for these skills, and encourage her to be honest. She doesn't have to show it to you, just tell her to bring it with her and show her coaches. It sounds like she has coaches that are trying to find what is best for her, but sometimes coaches need tools to do their work better. And the best tools to have are thoughts that go around in gymnasts heads! I tell you.

Sometimes it might be that they are anxious about disappointing the parents. I have had gymnasts eventually open up to me crying and absolutely miserable, because they thought that they underachieved at meets because they were afraid to disappoint their parents. These parents never even watched the practice or were overly-involved, but the thing was that after a meet they started to question the gymnasts about how they think it went, the things that went wrong, why they thought they fell, why was their score lower than usual. I overheard some of these conversations, and you could have thought they were completely innocent and the parent was just curious and wanted to learn more about the sport, but the gymnasts felt very pressured and like a failure, even if the parents didn't sound mad or very intense. But the gymnasts sensed what the parents felt, even if not said out loud. Then came this fall season, and spectators weren't allowed in the competitions at all, and suddenly all of the anxiety in the meets disappeared and the gymnasts did better that ever before. It was crazy! I never thought how much impact the parents can have on the gymnasts in the meets.
 

cmg

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@ldw4mlo — I wish I could dig into my daughter’s feelings more, but she keeps a lot hidden behind a very thick shell. She absolutely does not want to talk gymnastics with me (or anyone as far as I can tell). She has periods during which a suspiciously high number of headaches or stomachaches keep her from practice. And engages in a lot of avoidance behaviors in the gym. So it’s hard to for me to know exactly what’s going on. But, yes, you are correct: When asked directly she says she wants to continue gymnastics.

@Tigtimes - Thank you for sharing your “light at the end of tunnel” story. A little hope goes a long way!

@gymgal - Great perspective. Did you ever question your daughter’s stated love of gymnastics? I sometimes wonder if, for my DD, it’s the friendships and personal identity as a gymnast (more than the sport itself) that keep her going back for more. For example, she zero interest in backyard gymnastics or even watching it on TV. Oh, and interesting take on preteen “growth” being about more than inches! Thanks
So I don't know if you have read my past posts about my daughter's journey with gymnastics and fear of going backwards, but she has learned to deal with it. She is training L10 right now, I don't think we are going to any meets due to Covid (our state is literally a hot spot for the world right now), and she figures out skills that work for her. As they get older they understand what they need for their level and work around any weaknesses. Not going backwards does limit what skills they have available to them, but we are watching a lot more people do front skills. Front skills are often harder and they can get bonus with some of these skills. Every gymnast has weaknesses, but when you don't go backwards its just a lot more obvious. Although it is sad she probably wont be competing this year, in some ways it gives her less stress about gymnastics. I am sure there is not a parent on this forum that has not been through the "had the skill all summer and December rolls around and its gone" routine. I am hoping that at least we can do an in-house meet in the next month or two and/or a virtual meet sometime in later spring. Your daughter is still young enough that not competing this year is ok. The silver lining is that this could be a blessing in disguise. Of course you won't know that until next year, but patience is a virtue too!!
 

CLgym

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@gymisforeveryone -- So you have really got my wheels spinning. I think I may have underestimated how much of my DD's regression is mental. No doubt I bear some responsibility with all of my concerns and questions (I'm working on it!). Unfortunately, DD will not discuss what's going on in her head or in the gym. It's part of her avoidance mechanism. And she would NEVER talk to her coaches about it. Mostly because of her anxiety (she is nearly mute around all adults, whether during carpool, in school, or in the gym). But also because of language and cultural barriers with her coaches, who are all former soviet bloc and don't view self advocacy or emotional issues the same way as Americans. To be clear, these are good and kind coaches. But I would say that the mental aspect of the sport is not something they were raised understanding.

This is where (limited) watching can help parents -- I was able to see DD's avoidance behaviors in the gym and reached out to the coaches a couple of months ago. I was seeing DD fly under the radar, skip stations, and spiral downward. At one point, DD grabbed her bag and left the gym, texting me from the bathroom to come get her because she couldn't do anything anymore. I have to assume the coaches saw it too, but they simply ignored it. In fact, the less my DD did in the gym, the more she was ignored / less attention she received. I explained to the coaches that DD was skipping assignments, not because she was lazy or uncooperative, but because she was embarrassed, frustrated and felt she had disappointed everyone. In response, the bars coach asked me to bring DD a little early to practice every day for some one-on-one time. This way he could go back to some basic drills that the rest of DD's group didn't need -- and also allowed DD to work outside the view of her teammates. Unfortunately, after only 2 weeks, COVID numbers spiked, the gym shut down again, and then reopened with a reduced practice schedule (current situation). It's been a tough year!

In any event, I greatly appreciate your insights as a coach. Honestly, it's even hard for me to talk to DD's coaches. They are lovely people and know gymnastics -- but for some reason I feel it's hard to connect (and am even a little intimidated).
 
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ldw4mlo

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@ldw4mlo — I wish I could dig into my daughter’s feelings more, but she keeps a lot hidden behind a very thick shell. She absolutely does not want to talk gymnastics with me (or anyone as far as I can tell). She has periods during which a suspiciously high number of headaches or stomachaches keep her from practice. And engages in a lot of avoidance behaviors in the gym. So it’s hard to for me to know exactly what’s going on. But, yes, you are correct: When asked directly she says she wants to continue gymnastics.
My kid never talks gym. Me, how was gym today..... Her, Good...... Me, what did you do......... Her, Stuff.

She has never been all gym, all the time. She watches college gym, sometimes, Olympics sure. But no, these days its BTS, Dance Moms, The Office.

11-13 were ugly years for her, puberty, periods, growth spurts injuries. The shifting sands of middle school. I can't even imagine adding the BS of Covid.... I actually made a worksheet when she started middle school. I put a year from 1 to 84, (average life exectancy). Put these MS years in red, the rest in calmer colors. So she could see the visual. What seems like a huge deal, is a huge deal in the moment, won't be down the road......

I also find car rides help. She is much chattier in the car, when she doesn't need to make eye contact. Dusk is even better.

Deep breaths....
 

Bendy

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It has been a very long time since I last posted -- but (for reasons explained below) gymnastics has not been a fun topic for me lately. I guess I'm just fishing for words of encouragement and advice. This will be long, but I feel like a little history is needed:

- My DD started gymnastics "late" at almost age 6, and was moved on to pre team after about 6 months of rec. After 8 months or so, she was pushed to Xcel primarily for reasons related to body type and old age. This was how I found CB. After much debate, we decided to stay at gym and try Xcel. She competed on year of Xcel Bronze at age 7 and did very well. Gym still would not consider her for JO so we finally changed gyms.
- At new gym, she competed L4 at age 8 and L6 at age 9. So essentially she did one year of compulsory JO. But she was doing fine in meets. Better than fine, on many occasions. At her state meets, she finished 7th AA in L4 in second youngest age group (3rd beam, 5th bars), and finished 4th AA in L6 in the youngest age group (2nd bars). So things seemed to be progressing ok.
- DD competed L7 at age 10 and continued to do well, especially on bars (scoring a 9.9 during the season and taking 1st place on bars at Regionals in a very competitive Region and in an age group that included many outstanding (TOPS) gymnasts). All things seemed to be pointing in the right direction.... until they weren't.

For some reason, DD really struggled to make the jump to L8. Gym allowed her to compete L8 last year at age 11 (partial season due to COVID) despite having only a BWO-BHS on beam, and without flipping her vault (she competed a timer at meets, but could flip at practice into pit or with spot). It was a rough season. I stopped posting here. DD did qualify for state, but that's a pretty low bar for us. At best, scores hovered in the mid to high 8's -- except for vault which was low 8's given it was a timer. Lots of falls on bars so scores were often lower there. Think she hit 9.0 on floor and 9.3 on bars as high scores all season. Was consistently one of the lowest in her age group (which, incidentally, often included 12 and 13 year olds).

DD seems to be losing skills and moving, across all events, in the wrong direction. Trouble was definitely starting pre-COVID, but became more apparent after returning from quarantine. Casting to handstand is now a problem. No connection on beam. Trouble getting good timers on vault (they have since switched her to tsuk). In the last two years, she has gained almost no skills (added double back dismount to bars, and some upgraded tumbling, but that's it). She will compete L8 again obviously (now age 12), but still with a BWO-BHS on beam (that is shaky at best) and tsuk timer with half twist. Coaches have been all over the place with her. Trying different things for 2-3 months, and then trying something else altogether or going back to the original skill. I respect their willingness to be flexible with requirements, but it feels like she never has time to really focus on one thing.

DD still likes going to the gym most days. She has good friends there, and is almost always able to find small signs of progress. However, not gonna lie, it is pretty painful. Feels like banging your head against the wall. And DD does suffer from anxiety (treated with meds). I often wonder if the gym is contributing to anxiety-related behaviors exhibited at home (e.g., trouble sleeping, somatic complaints).

I told you this would be long! Sorry. But I am sort of dreading the start of meet season. And wondering if DD's time would be better spent on other activities or sports. It's beginning to feel like she will never get past this hump. I fear the original gym's "body type" assessment was correct and she has hit her physical limit. Thoughts? And thanks for listening.
This hit home for me when you said the anxiety. If she's still happy and not progressing I think she's fine. Adolescent growth and body changes are big at that age and a hurdle for many while they stabilize. We must have stayed too long. We thought we were lifers. Gymnastics was her world, it was all she did at home out of the gym. It was her best friends. For us, she shocked us when she said she wasn't going back because the anxiety was too big. I almost pushed her to get past it a few more months thinking it's just a rough patch because the sad truth seems to be you don't get a month off to recenter/re-evaluate ever. And now the more I know about the anxiety the more awful I feel that she was there. It has had lasting effects in aspects outside the gym. She was a happy kid. She feels like she can't have emotions because you're weak. She doesn't trust the adults in her life after the comments coaches said to and about her. She was scared to tell us more because when we did intervein it got worse. She didn't want to switch gyms because that's where her friends were. That age is woeful enough- explore what's causing the anxiety. My daughter feels broken because of them.
 

novagymmom

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This hit home for me when you said the anxiety. If she's still happy and not progressing I think she's fine. Adolescent growth and body changes are big at that age and a hurdle for many while they stabilize. We must have stayed too long. We thought we were lifers. Gymnastics was her world, it was all she did at home out of the gym. It was her best friends. For us, she shocked us when she said she wasn't going back because the anxiety was too big. I almost pushed her to get past it a few more months thinking it's just a rough patch because the sad truth seems to be you don't get a month off to recenter/re-evaluate ever. And now the more I know about the anxiety the more awful I feel that she was there. It has had lasting effects in aspects outside the gym. She was a happy kid. She feels like she can't have emotions because you're weak. She doesn't trust the adults in her life after the comments coaches said to and about her. She was scared to tell us more because when we did intervein it got worse. She didn't want to switch gyms because that's where her friends were. That age is woeful enough- explore what's causing the anxiety. My daughter feels broken because of them.
I just wanted to say that I'm sorry you and your daughter went through/are going through that. I hope that the change is positive for your daughter and that with some time and distance feels differently. So just wanted to send support to you both.
 
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CLgym

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@Bendy -- I am so sorry that your daughter had such a difficult time at the end, and hope that she heals with time away from gymnastics. My own personal observation is that gymnastics, for some reason, seems to attract high anxiety kids (perfectionists?) and at the same time can exacerbate their anxiety. My daughter would undoubtedly have anxiety with or without gymnastics, but I do worry that the timing of her somatic complaints often correlates with gymnastics. That there is a connection. Although she has good periods too.

I have read several stories like yours about gymnasts staying in the sport "too long" - to the point where it starts to damage self esteem, health, etc. -- and I am really trying not to make that mistake. Unfortunately, my DD keeps her feelings so hidden that I'm not sure even she knows what she truly wants.
 

ernestine

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Sounds like it might be time to move on. My daughter did two years of 9 without ever complaining or saying she didn't want to go, but in retrospect, I wish she had quite earlier. So much time spent in pursuit of something she didn't truly love.
 

John

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@CLgym how are you. Dani had a tough time with level 8. She scored better the next year in level nine, last year. Then Covid, then a broken elbow and surgery. She has made a full recovery but the 6 months out was tough on her. She grew probably 4 inches and etc. We spoke many times after she returned and was struggling. We decided that she would train this year and evaluate when the year was over, that seemed to release any worry within her and she began to improve. I will always support her if she works hard and has the desire to improve and shows desire for the "next step." I told her if she hides at practice or expresses that her goals have been reached I then support and encourage her moving on. The sport is too demanding physically, mentally, and financially to do JO for fun and friends. I struggle with "evaluation" of my gymnast, I believe I have settled on being a kind person and working hard. I personally do not see the value in doing level 9 or 10 half way with no dreams for anything beyond. So hang in there and speak to her. Encourage her to take ownership while steering her in the direction you think is best.
 

CLgym

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@John -- You are still here! Yay! It is so nice to hear from you. Glad to hear Dani is still enjoying gymnastics and making progress. Sorry to hear about her injury.

I took your advice and (tried) to have a conversation with my DD today in general about her struggles in the gym, and also her recent meet performance (scores were mediocre -- 8.3, 8.6, 8.75 -- on vault, bars, floor -- but catastrophic 6.7 on beam due to multiple falls, missed connection and missed skill). She HATES to talk gymnastics so I tried to be very non-confrontational ("How are you feeling about gymnastics and your meet? Do you want to talk?"). She insisted that she was not sad or disappointed, and frankly did not care about her meet scores. When I suggested her lack of caring might suggest that she is not that invested in gymnastics, she insisted that I was putting her between a rock and a hard place.... that she could care about gymnastics, without caring about her scores, medals or even progress. It's an interesting perspective, and one that I'm not sure I entirely believe. In any event, our talk unfortunately did not yield the insight or understanding that you are lucky enough to have with your daughter.

The whole conversation with my DD led me to wonder about the coaches perspective on gymnasts like her. Are coaches okay with a gymnast who works (relatively) hard during practice with little to show for it? Or should I expect "a talk" in the not so distant future about a forced move to Xcel or similar??
 
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gymgal

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I took your advice and (tried) to have a conversation with my DD today in general about her struggles in the gym, and also her recent meet performance (scores were mediocre -- 8.3, 8.6, 8.75 -- on vault, bars, floor -- but catastrophic 6.7 on beam due to multiple falls, missed connection and missed skill). She HATES to talk gymnastics so I tried to be very non-confrontational ("How are you feeling about gymnastics and your meet? Do you want to talk?"). She insisted that she was not sad or disappointed, and frankly did not care about her meet scores. When I suggested her lack of caring might suggest that she is not that invested in gymnastics, she insisted that I was putting her between a rock and a hard place.... that she could care about gymnastics, without caring about her scores, medals or even progress. It's an interesting perspective, and one that I'm not sure I entirely believe. In any event, our talk unfortunately did not yield the insight or understanding that you are lucky enough to have with your daughter.

The whole conversation with my DD led me to wonder about the coaches perspective on gymnasts like her. Are coaches okay with a gymnast who works (relatively) hard during practice with little to show for it? Or should I expect "a talk" in the not so distant future about a forced move to Xcel or similar??
ouch. I know you didn't mean to be confrontational but suggesting perhaps she is not invested enough was quite confrontational, no matter how much sugar you put on it to not make it sound that way to her. She is learning to navigate a new/different path by focusing on other measurements of progress. This is not easy for a child who has had early success with top scores in the past and especially if they are in a gym that expects high scores. The fact that she is switching her mindset away from scores suggests that she does still enjoy gymnastics and knows she will need to measure her progress in other ways.
 
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pt coach

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@John -- You are still here! Yay! It is so nice to hear from you. Glad to hear Dani is still enjoying gymnastics and making progress. Sorry to hear about her injury.

I took your advice and (tried) to have a conversation with my DD today in general about her struggles in the gym, and also her recent meet performance (scores were mediocre -- 8.3, 8.6, 8.75 -- on vault, bars, floor -- but catastrophic 6.7 on beam due to multiple falls, missed connection and missed skill). She HATES to talk gymnastics so I tried to be very non-confrontational ("How are you feeling about gymnastics and your meet? Do you want to talk?"). She insisted that she was not sad or disappointed, and frankly did not care about her meet scores. When I suggested her lack of caring might suggest that she is not that invested in gymnastics, she insisted that I was putting her between a rock and a hard place.... that she could care about gymnastics, without caring about her scores, medals or even progress. It's an interesting perspective, and one that I'm not sure I entirely believe. In any event, our talk unfortunately did not yield the insight or understanding that you are lucky enough to have with your daughter.

The whole conversation with my DD led me to wonder about the coaches perspective on gymnasts like her. Are coaches okay with a gymnast who works (relatively) hard during practice with little to show for it? Or should I expect "a talk" in the not so distant future about a forced move to Xcel or similar??
As a coach, I agree with your daughter. It is absolutely possible to be invested in gymnastics without caring too much about scores or medals. I believe that this is a healthy attitude and can help her enjoy the sport even through difficult times. Finding her own definition of success and progress is important, and it can't always be measured by meet results. A gymnast who is a hard worker, but maybe doesn't compete well, still benefits from the experience of working hard at something they love doing. And one bad meet or low scoring season doesn't define her gymnastics career.
 

Tigtimes

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scores were mediocre -- 8.3, 8.6, 8.75 -- on vault, bars, floor -- but catastrophic 6.7 on beam due to multiple falls, missed connection and missed skill). She HATES to talk gymnastics
Ok I am going to be blunt here. You need to stop the focus on scores as they seem to be your issue at this point. perhaps instead of looking at something as “catastrophic” you could look at the fact that she got up on the beam that she is most likely terrified of at this point and tried - THAT is success at this moment for her. She fell but continued, there is nothing catastrophic. Stop defining success to scores cause when they struggle simple things like just continuing can be a huge success.

In your effort to not add anxiety by focusing on scores you are doing exactly that. You are looking for her to define things that she most likely can’t define to herself. Maybe she hates to talk about it because you are asking her to give you answers where there are none right now. Give her space to find a path through the struggle, one she defines not you. Trust me it is all you can do.