People. Yesterday was a banner day at The Little Gym.
TLG is a place we go once or twice a week. They have all these goals that they discuss in high and excited voices. Yesterday was 'ChallengeYourself Skill Day'. Great, I thought to myself, this oughta be good ... Rio is a 'Super Beast', so at least their labeling is fair and thoughtful! Anyway, I do find all the instructors to be lovely and pretty knowledgeable and very supportive. Rio typically completely and 100% does her own thing. And everyone professes to be okay with that....
Kids in a circle, singing 'Twinkle Twinkle' and shaking bells? Rio is jumping up and down on a mat across the gym.
Kids patiently waiting their turn to do upside down flips on the bar? Rio is sitting in a giant donut saying 'Look Mommy! I'm in the giant tuuuuube!'
Kids doing anything requested of the group? Rio is wandering about, playing, jumping, apparently unconcerned that she's missing anything.
So. There is a giant air mattress type deal that they have. Fully inflated it's gotta be 25' long and 10' across and maybe 3' high. When the teacher busts that out the kids go bananas. Well, the other kids do. Rio typically says, 'I don't go on the jumping mat. I don't wike it. I play with the balls!' or something like that.
One of the toughest parenting challenges presently on my plate is the I really, badly, whole-heartedly want to push my kid. Physically. Grab her hand and say 'C'mon! It's a balance beam! Get up there and balance!' or 'C'mon! It's a slip and slide. Just run and dive!' or 'C'mon! It's a giant air mattress for jumping! Sooo fun!' ... but she resists. And treads ever.so.cautiously. She is incredibly articulate about her refusal to try new things. 'Nope!' is the usual answer. Or 'I don't like the balance beam!' or any of a number of other refusals but never 'I'm scared', which just might quell my desire to physically place her on the balance beam and step back. Or set her down in the ocean when the waves are gentle. Or throw her up on that padded scaretron and shout 'You're okay! You're okay!'.
Knowing her as well as I do, I understand that she takes a rather long time to come around to the idea of new physical things. Once undertaken, she excels and I have a special song and dance I do and she has a special smile of accomplishment. But part of me is frustrated with her hesitance. And a huge part of me is horrified I feel that way.
We have many small victories. Yesterday we had a huge one.
Miss D busted out the giant mattress. Hooked it up to the acceptably loud inflating mechanism and started filling it. The kids all scrambled aboard for the ride of when it's filling up. So fun. Rio was at the bottom of a wedge shaped mat - inch worming her body up to the top and then spilling over onto her hands as she'd spin around at the top.
Suddenly, she looked at the mattress and walked toward it. Then she walked around to the end where the kids line up to file onto the mat in small groups and she got on. She walked a few steps and sat down. Kids were jumping and running and falling and shoving all around her. She sat for a few minutes, taking in the feel of being suspended and then she got up and ran down the mattress to the end. AND CAME BACK AROUND TO DO IT AGAIN! She ended up jumping a little bit and smiling that smile at me.
It was all I could do to hold myself together and not cry like a baby.