Monday, August 20, 2012

You can lead a preschooler to gymnastics class...

This is a post that is meant to remind me that sometimes, okay maybe a lot of the time (and sometimes it sure the heck seems like ALL the time), I will feel a bit disappointed as a parent. For me, the big thing is to remind myself that it isn't my 4 year old's fault that she gets shy. I think sometimes she does play it up... but really, the situation was horrid, I was embarrassed and life will go on. It isn't necessarily even the shy factor, but sometimes when a 4 year old is the "big" kid, it is hard to not expect more from them than perhaps we would if they were the "baby" or "only."

So what's the situation? Last year my daughter was in dance (and the year before), but our au pair (and me when I was able to sneak over to her class) had a hard time keeping my son out of my daughter's dance class. They often had to go to another studio room for him to play, since the observation room needed more silence than a 1.5 year old could give. Anyway, so what do I do? I sign him up for dance class. It is creative movement and targeted for 2-3 year olds and he's right in the middle of the age group of his small class of around 4 students.

What happens?

Last week he decided he didn't want to go... even with my daughter there. She went in his place and he and I waited outside with me. After class the very lovely and vibrant teacher came out and he ran to her and gave her a big hug.

Sorry dude, what the heck was that?!

He flirts with her like a 2 year old boy does... and agrees with her that he'll dance next week.

So the night before class this week I remind him of dance class and laugh with him and we joke (the way a 2 year old with an awesome sense of humor does) and he says he'll dance in class... I cross my fingers, say a little prayer and know it is unlikely but I have hope!

We get to class a few minutes early this week and I'm telling him we're going to dance, I attempt to bribe him (something I hate to do for something so inconsequential EXCEPT for the fact that the class is paid for!) but he says "ok, no shut the door mama" so that's at least progress, right?

We get in class, he helps set up the mats and he's having fun... until the other kids come in. He chases me toward the door, so I run the other way to the back of the studio, which forces him to go past the teacher who grabs him and tickles him. He laughs, but then looks at me and knows what's up. He has us figured out. UGH. He picks out a pom-pom and decides which color the teacher will have and I attempt to slip out. He notices and starts crying. The music starts and he's with the teacher dancing. He stops crying for a bit when another kid is doing things she's not supposed to be doing, but then realizes he was crying so he starts up again. Finally the teacher brings him out and we end the class. Ugh. Fail.

We leave and luckily they're awesome and understand when I drop the class and we at least get a credit toward my daughter's classes.

Afterward my daughter and I head to a trial gymnastics class. My 4 year old loved gymnastics, especially rhythmic gymnastics. Since, as mentioned before, she's been doing dance for 2.5 years and a few rec center tumbling courses, when she asked for "real" gymnastics classes (it HAS to have the high bars!), I agreed to find some trial classes. I found one and actually in my message asked for an early afternoon course, preferably 3 pm... They had a 4 pm class and I figured we could make that work.

It didn't. We got there, I signed the waiver and she wouldn't go in. I showed her from where I'd be watching.  It had a "sibling" area with movies and a play area. She preferred that but unfortunately I wasn't willing to compromise to say that was an acceptable alternative. So, I pointed out the high bars. Nope. First off, the high bars weren't high (they were low for smaller kids...) and the kids probably already made friends. I swear, sometimes, as a parent you can't win. I feel like I'm in the dark gloomy pages of Dr Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go!

But it isn't about winning or losing or anything of the sort. It is one single moment in the limited time we have here together. This moment will pass and what impression am I leaving on my daughter with how I reach? I have to remember these things and remember that how I prepare myself is just as important as the attempt to "hype" before hand. And, if I have to hype too much, perhaps it isn't something the kiddo really even wants to do!

I have to remember that even if we didn't make it in, we can learn something from today. Both of us.  For me, it is about (the attempt) to expose her to more and then afterward, not taking it too hard when things don't go as planned. Luckily I didn't pay for this class, though we did use some extra gas, we were able to get other errands done sooner. She didn't get any toys or prizes when we stopped at Toys R Us to pick up the batteries we got on "steal of a deal" with the $5 off $5 coupon, but we agreed that she'll try again for "real" gymnastics when she's 5.

I realize I really want her to have some experiences I didn't really have, but she's 4. She's a bit shy and even 4 pm is hard for her - too late in the day to be in the car for 20 minutes and not almost fall asleep. So, I can lead a preschooler to gymnastics class, but I need to follow her lead and realize her 5 half days of Montessori and dance is probably enough for her right now. Especially after a summer filled with relaxation, except for swimming, where we had similar situations with not wanting to jump right in :)

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