Gymnastics or Torture?

Today was the first day of gymnastics for Lucy & Max. Initially only Lucy was going to take gymnastics. The thinking was that she would enjoy having a “big-girl” activity and the class environment might be a good experience for her. However, when I went to sign her up the gym also offered a toddler “mommy & me” class at the same time. In that moment it seemed like a great idea for Max & I to sign up as well. I had visions of us all holding hands and going to gymnastics together — possibly even singing. If only I had stopped to think about MY children and not the imaginary children I apparently was thinking about.

We arrived at the gym in cutely coordinated sweatpants and shirts. We were all ready. The kids were excited and eager to start. Max instantly started pointing to other kids and exclaiming “Who That?”. Lucy kept asking “Can we start now? how about now? NOW?” The young coaches came out to the waiting area and gathered up the “older” kids and started herding them to their class.

Lucy waved bye and walked away.
I beamed proudly at my well adjusted 4 year old.
Max collapsed in a ball of tears at his sister leaving.

They then took the mommy’s and toddlers and we went to the trampolines. Oh, I knew Max would love this and he did take right to it. He jumped, he ran, he fell – he completely ignored the teacher. Every instruction was as if she was speaking to everybody else but him. All the other mommy’s gently guided their children into compliance but me. I could get Max to only do the opposite of what was being required.

After this session we walked over to an open mat and sat down for “music-time”. Well, in order to reach this mat we had to pass the “big-kid” class which included seeing Lucy. Max, excited to see his sister wanted to join her class and when he realized he couldn’t he collapsed into tears — again.

He cried through music time.
He briefly stopped to make a mad dash across the gym to find his sister.
He cried through tumbling time.

And just as I was about to surrender to his sorrow and long after my vision of us all enjoying this experience had been dashed across the rocks of reality they began playing on the rope swing. This activity actually looked mildly dangerous for a 2 yr-old, which I’m sure is why Max liked it. Basically they let kids hang onto a big rope and swing/fall into a giant pit of foam blocks. When that stops being fun they get to climb up on a large square block and jump off of that into the pit of foam. Well, Max thought this was worthy of his attention. He loved it and jumped, rolled and frolicked in the blocks and periodically screamed “Sissy!!” – as if somehow Lucy would appear and share in his joy.

I had just started to think that just maybe he might adjust to this whole gymnastics thing when they announced “sticker-time”. Now, Max loves stickers and I thought this will be a great way to end this experience. However, they didn’t mean stickers – they meant stamps – as in rubber stamp their hand. For a boy who thinks nothing of coloring his head, mouth, ears and nose with a marker he completely fell apart when they decided to stamp a light hue of a mickey mouse on his hand. He shrieked in horror that ink had been applied to his hand. At this point the other parents were all politely laughing as if to indicate that this behavior was somehow cute. Cute? Really? My son has cried through at least 50% of a 45 minute gymnastics class WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!!

We met back up with Lucy and her coach at the end of class. Lucy’s instructor sweetly explained to me that Lucy is a natural. That in no time she will be able to move up into another class and that she followed every instruction.

And only now, hours after our return do I realize that this is the beauty of having two children. Max is younger and he is a different kind of child than Lucy. His sister is his best friend and right now at 2 years old – he needs her in a way that Lucy needed me when she was 2. best friends: Lucy & Max.

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