Friday, September 10, 2010

Gymnastics. The Good. The Bad. And the Ugly.

So, this morning Brandy and I took Harlie and Cooper to their first gymnastics class.  The class is from 9:15 to 10:00.  A 9:15 start time is a bit of a lofty goal for us - but I didn't really have much choice.  Harlie needs to be back home in time to catch the bus at 10:30.

Their classes are at the same time, in different rooms.  I chose to put Harlie in the 3-year old class vs. the 4-year old class because the class time is 15 minutes shorter (just in case she tires out) and I thought she would actually fit in better as far as physical ability with the younger girls.

Cooper is in a parent/child class.  Typically, I'm not a big fan of parent/child classes.  To be honest, I feel really silly in them and frankly, I'm not very good at helping my child get excited about whatever it is they want us to get the kids excited about.  Especially in a group setting.  BUT, I am willing to do what I need to do for my children's happiness and well-being.  Aren't I a good mom???

Back to the 9:15 start time being a lofty goal for us...

Harlie is NOT an easy child to get up in the morning.  Nine times out of ten we have to work pretty hard and long to wake her up and get her moving.  I don't know why.  She goes to bed at a decent time (usually by 8pm) and sleeps all through the night.  Twelve hours of sleep should be good enough, right? Then after getting her up, she needs to get her meds, she needs to be fed (which takes FOREVER) and we have to prepare her lunch, etc.

We did our best (after working very diligently) and got both kids out the door and in the car by 9:05am.  We pulled into the parking lot at 9:17am.  I know that I should have done whatever I should have done to get us there earlier.  I knew I was going to have to speak to the owners about Harlie's abilities and answer whatever questions they had for the instructors to feel comfortable with her.  But, I couldn't.  Sometimes it's just not possible.  Period.  I do my best and that's all I can do.  It's not like I was goofing off and, oops! guess I won't do that again.  No, it wasn't like that at all.

I suppose I could have gotten up earlier - before the kids - and prepared her breakfast and lunch, showered, dressed, packed her bags, etc.  But, I was tired.  And training for a marathon, my rest is important, too!  Maybe I should have done that stuff last night.  But I was busy doing other stuff that needed to be done.  So, that really wasn't an option, either.  Anyway, my point is that I'm NEVER early to anything, and not for lack of trying, either.  And if I'm only a couple of minutes late - I personally think that's an accomplishment.

So, we get the kids in the door and one of the owners comes up to us and asks if that's Harlie.  He is going to be her instructor and just had a few questions.

Of course Cooper isn't going to stick around for this conversation, so off he goes into the playroom they have there for waiting kids.  He knows about this room because we were just there with Murphy on Tuesday.

So, when I go to collect him from the playroom, he is not a happy camper.  Nor is he when I open the door to the parent/child class where all the punctual parents are sitting with their well behaved children sitting nicely on their laps, listening attentively to the instructor.  Cooper wails and squirms until I put him down and proceeds to take off and run amok through the room.  And, of course, I have to go leaping over equipment to catch him, and return him to "our" spot in the circle.  Well, let me tell you - he wanted NOTHING to do with any type of circle time or instructions given by anyone.

We were quite a sight, and not in a good way.  The more I tried to calm him down or keep him from running amok, the worse he got.  During the screaming and flailing, the instructor was still trying to keep the attention of the rest of the class and give instructions, while keeping all of this "fun."

At one point I asked one of the instructors, "what's the age range of this class again"?  And at another point, one of the instructors said, "Well it helps if you get here on time so he can listen to the rules".  hehe.  Yeah, right.  Cooper won't sit and listen to rules.  Are you kidding me?  Do kids his age even DO that????  And I wanted to say, "you have no idea how much work it took to get us here late, much less on-time"!

I couldn't make eye contact with anyone in the class.  The only person I saw (other than the instructors) was a mom who's son was in Murphy's class last year.  Honestly, I couldn't believe that she acknowledged that she knew me by saying hello to me.  Had she completely ignored me, I wouldn't have blamed her.  She asked me who Murphy got as a teacher this year.  But, that's as much as we could talk considering the circumstances.  She gave me the "I've been there - know how you feel" sympathy kind of look, which was very comforting and much appreciated.

There was no choice but to remove him from the class.  And frankly, I wanted the world to swallow me whole anyway.  I seriously couldn't get out of there fast enough.  The instructor said I should try to re-enter the room when they got on the equipment and maybe he would be better.

So, we waited until the kids started working their way around the room on the equipment and I brought him back in.  He just wanted to run amok again.  Which was even worse because now instead of just equipment I had to jump over to catch him, there were children everywhere!  The instructors were trying to catch him and contain him and engage him in activities - all to no avail!  To him - there was no one else in the room.  It was all about him and what he wanted to do.  Period.  He was an absolute wild child.  Like he was raised-by-wolves wild!

I could feel all eyes on me.  Judging me and my child.  And I know they are wrong.  Whatever they were thinking - they don't have a CLUE about me or my child or our life.  I know that.  But, it's really no consolation.  I was still embarrassed and very disappointed in my choice to enroll him in this class.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?!

We left again.  This time for good.  I came out of the room a disheveled sweaty mess.  Beaten.  By a 23-month old little boy.  In public.

Brandy came out of the room that Harlie was in and said she could hear Cooper crying.  She offered to take him so I could go watch Harlie.  Thank God for Brandy.  So, I went and watched Harlie and she was so stinking cute, it killed me!  The instructor would demonstrate what he wanted her to do, and she would watch, and then do the best she could.

There is such a difference between the way she moves and what she can do versus the way the other little girls moved and what they could do.  I am so thankful that she can do all she can, but I can't help but be a little sad, too.  Right now she doesn't notice.  But what's going to happen when she does?  And when will that be?   And she required a lot of one-on-one instruction.  Luckily, there were two instructors and four girls.

But, she stood in line, waited her turn, did what they asked her to do and looked like she was having a lot of fun.  The instructor said that she wasn't afraid of anything and that sometimes she held out her hand for assistance, but a lot of the times she refused his help, which he said wasn't disrespectful, just her way of saying she wanted to do it herself.  And he said she was very independent.  He said that if the class size stays the same - she will be great.  I asked him if I could pay a little extra if another instructor needed to be added for her.  Remember that he's the owner - he said that their job is to keep the kids safe, and if adding an instructor is required to keep her safe, they will not ask me to do that.  Isn't that great?!

So, in Harlie's case - a complete success!  I can't wait to see how things change from week to week.

After we got in the car to rush home so Harlie could catch the bus, I decided that I would call the gym and ask them to take Cooper's payment for his class and just apply it to Harlie's next session.  I really can't imagine taking him back there, to that class.  

But, a friend of mine said I should think about it over the weekend, calm down and make that decision next week.  I might ask the owners if he can go in that room when a class isn't in session so he can run amok and get it out of his system.  There was another mom there who said that her child was just like that for EIGHT weeks, until she finally got it and started participating like everyone else.  What I can tell you is that I don't have it in me to go through that.  No way.  I have too many other battles - I'm not paying money to fight that one.

Another thing - I know he needs more structure.  He's never been in line, or waited his turn, or been told to "freeze!"  He's never been to the library for story time where he had to sit and listen.  Our life just hasn't afforded him those experiences.  So, I'll see what I can do about exposing him to some of that and maybe just try again later.  I guess I'll see what they say and go from there.

Later in the afternoon, I heard a knock on the door.  Went to answer it and it was that mom that I knew from the parent/child class - with these sunflowers and a card for me!

Seriously???  What a nice person she is to bring me flowers and a card - knowing that I felt like crap about this morning's fiasco.  She totally made my day!  I really do feel lucky sometimes.  And loved.  Very, very loved.  Just not by strangers in the Otter/Pup gymnastics class.  Thank you, Brittany, for going out of your way to make me feel better!

That does make me wonder.... maybe the other parents just felt sorry for me.  Maybe they weren't judging me after all.  Yeah, let's go with that.

Well, it's Friday night, I have fresh sunflowers in a vase on my table for the first time in, well, ever.  The first week of 1st grade is over (thankfully! I'll write more about that in a future post) and the weather is cooling down nicely for a 55-degree, 15-mile run in the morning.  I think everything's going to be okay.

Thanks for reading.  And for not judging me.  In a bad way.  You can judge me in a good way, though.  If there is such a thing.


Ann said...

Christy, you are awesome. Brittany speaks for many of us who "get it" and completely understand that you are doing the best you can do (and, quite frankly, you do more than most could ever do). Yes, you are loved! Have a great run in the morning.

Janis @ Sneak Peek At Me said...

Oh my goodness that Cooper is a wild one!! I had a good chuckle imagining all that chaos. But I'm so glad Harlie had fun...WTG Harlie!!!

ANewKindOfPerfect said...

I have to agree with Janis - I sort of chuckled imagining you trying to wrestle a screaming, flailing, crazed Cooper. ;) Only because we've all been there, whether we admit it or not! I would absolutely call and see if they will let you bring him in when there's no class! Maybe if he gets his exploring out of the way, he will be more comfortable sitting and following instructions.

I'm sorry that the teacher said you should have gotten there on time so he could hear the rules. Obviously he wouldn't listen to them, or he would have stopped when you told him to! They are kids for gosh sakes.

I am so happy that Brittany brought you flowers and a card. It's so thoughtful! Although I might have added a bottle of wine ... ;)

Susan said...

You know I think every parent has been there so I doubt there was a single parent there who hasn't felt that same way even if they didn't show it. Brittany sounds like a very nice lady. And I'm going to bet that instructor doesn't have kids and has no clue how hard it is for you to get there.

I'm glad that Harlie did well and enjoys it. Maybe you could just hang out with Cooper and have some one on one time during her classes? (That's what I did with Adrian during Evie's ballet classes and it was kind of fun). Cooper's a little young yet so he can probably miss out on gymnastics at this age and still grow up to be a great person. ;) Save your energy.

You're a great mom!

Tanya said...

Kudos to the other mom and Brittany and even the mom who gave you the sympathetic look. Thank goodness for people who take the time to connect with other human beings. This parenting thing is rough and some understanding goes a long long way.

I'm amazed that you made the commitment to getting to a 9:15 with all you have to do in the AM. You'll figure out the best thing for Cooper during that time and it sounds like Harlie is going to love this class. The owner sounds awesome.

Rebecca said...


What a great moment for Harlie. It is wonderful when kids find activities they enjoy and that it will help her strenghten mentally and physically.

Please know that every parent I have ever known has had moments just like you have described with Cooper. He is a happy kid who is fearless. David when he was Cooper's age was in day care 2 days a week from 9 - noon and everyday I would drop him off and he would cry and break my heart. I felt like the worst parent ever!

The point is you try and see what works and what does not. You and Tom are amazing people with more courage and determination than I have ever seen. You have been truly blessed and we get to share in that through your blog. Thank you for being you.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you and Cooper got your work-out in. He is so little and active, that sometimes it takes quite a while to engage in a structured class. He was having a good time Mom. I am so glad that Harlie liked her class. She is very independent isn't she. That is so wonderful. Just encourage her when she does something and she will learn that she does things that fit her ability and keep making her feel good about herself. She knows that you all love her so much.
Love Ron and SUe