When we moved out to the country almost two years ago now, I put Caroline in gymnastics. She was just three years old at the time, but she was a monkey even then, and gymnastics was a great match for her. She took gymnastics classes for over a year, and then we took a break. Those of you who have been following my blog for the past week or so might remember that she never adjusted to her new teacher last year.
Last spring, she started asking to take gymnastics again, so I told her that we could start fresh this fall if she was still interested. When I went to sign her up last month, David, who is 7, decided that he too would like to take gymnastics.
At first, I didn’t take him seriously. Not that there is anything wrong with boys taking gymnastics, but he’s a baseball kid. He was persuasive, though, so I looked into it and discovered that there is a boys’ class at our local gymnastics studio AND it meets at the same time as the class for Caroline. So I signed up both of them.
Today was the first gymnastics class. But when David came home from school, he said he didn’t want to go. I immediately assumed that some of the boys at school had teased him about it, but he said that wasn’t so. He didn’t have another reason for his change of heart, so I told him that I wanted him to try it just once, and if he didn’t like it, he would never have to go back.
Well, when we arrived, the gym was full of kids. Girls, to be more precise. The previous classes hadn’t yet been released, and the new kids were arriving. It was a madhouse. And there was not a boy in sight.
Now, my son is a sensitive soul. On the up-side, that means that he is sweet and eager to please. But on the down-side, it means he tends to be overly emotional at times. As he looked around and assessed the situation, I could tell that he was on the brink of tears.
He came over to me and said he thought there were going to be other boys. I assured him that this was an all-boys class and there must be others. Sure enough, no sooner had I uttered those words but a boy walked in the door.
David awkwardly wiped his eyes, self-consciously looked around, and went over to sit in the appropriate line. I stood to the side of the room and watched the situation unfold. A few times I caught my son’s gaze, and each time I gave him what I hoped was a reassuring smile. He was obviously uncomfortable but trying so hard to be brave.
Within the next few minutes, six more boys entered the room and found a seat beside my son. Then the teacher sat down beside the boys and started taking attendance. David looked over to be sure that I was still there, and when he caught my eye he smiled and gave me the thumbs-up sign.
I knew then that all was well.
As it turns out, he had a great time and is looking forward to going back next week, but I’ll tell you one thing. Being the parent and watching our kids take each laborious step towards independence could possibly be more painful than taking those steps yourself. But then how rewarding is it to see them gradually developing into the young men and women they are going to be?
Caroline, who also has been growing by leaps and bounds this month, didn’t give me a bit of resistance when it was time for her to join her gymnastics class this afternoon. You have to realize that every time I left her at school or Sunday School or Bible Study or gymnastics last year, it was a drama. But this year she has surprised and amazed me as she has taken each new situation in stride.
So as of today, I have two gymnasts. And my third may not be far behind. My youngest, who is nearing her second birthday, was very eager to join her big brother and big sister on the mats today. But I think I’ll hold off with her for at least one more year.