My Daughter, Space Cadet

Last year, when we found our little princess hanging by her hands and feet like a possum from the underside of her brother’s top bunk, and swinging on doorknobs all over the house, we decided to enroll her in gymnastics. Not particularly coordinated, but freakishly strong, gymnastics seems to be a good outlet for her 4-year-old energy.

It never ceases to amaze me how different two children, born of the same parents and raised in the same household, can be.  When my son was 4 years old, we put him in a T-Ball class at the local rec center. He was all business. He followed every direction, listening to the teachers and watching the other children intently so he would know exactly what to do. His attention never wavered for the whole 45 minutes. He was always where he should be doing as he was told. He is that attentive to this day.

Not so with my daughter.

She is in her own little world. Unlike her brother, she is never where she should be, always looking everywhere except at what she is supposed to be doing, and she is way more concerned with whether or not I am watching her than if she is doing the correct activity. Or doing the activity correctly.

This morning, her gymnastics lesson went something like this:

“Mom!” Grins.  Waves. Pauses to watch the kindergarten class beside hers.

The teacher calls her name once.  Twice. Slowly stands up, still watching the bigger girls.  Meanders over to the first activity.  Grabs the rings.

“Mom!” Grins my way, making sure I acknowledge her.  Swings back and forth.  “One, two, three, wheee!!!”  Pulls herself up with superhuman strength so she is peering through one of the rings.  Continues to swing while the kids begin to line up behind her, patiently waiting their turns.

Teacher calls her name once.  Twice.  Three times.

Hops off the rings.  Daydreams her way to the next activity, the low beam. “Mom!” Grins. Waves. With her eyes still on me, not the beam, she steps on the beam and promptly falls off.  “Woah! Woahhh!” Laughs, falls down dramatically.

Tries again, runs to the end, half on, half off the beam.  “Woahhh!”  Then through the tube she goes.

Takes a wobbly jump off the mini-tramp.

Skitters across the mat where she should be doing tuck jumps.  Teacher is oblivious.

Runs past the handstand mat.  Makes a weak attempt at a cartwheel on the cartwheel mat.  Teacher still oblivious.  Stops to smile and wave at her audience. Pauses to daydream.

The teacher redirects her to the bar.  Pulls up on the bar, swings back and forth for a few seconds, completely unaware of whatever trick she should be performing.  Teacher, once again, is distracted with other kids.

“Mom!”  Smiles, waves.  Satisfied that she still has my undivided attention, she climbs up the ladder and into the “marshmallow pit”. Here she spends the next five minutes.  “I an alligator!  I swimming!”

Finally the teacher calls her name again.  She takes three minutes getting out of the pit, pausing to smile and wave several times.  She looks around, decides no one really cares that she continue the circuit, and back into the marshmallow pit she goes.

Spends another five minutes being an alligator.  Meanwhile my money is trickling down the drain.

Eventually she climbs out and starts the circuit over again with the rings.

And so it continues.

I’m waiting for the teacher to call me and ask me to please, for the love of all that’s attentive and obedient, pull her from the class and try again next year.