Monday, October 10, 2011

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?


My daughter doesn't stop moving.

About a year ago, when I saw her hanging upside down from a bar at a playground, I decided to take her to a gymnastics class. She loved it, and we have been going ever since.

We started in a mommy and me class. Later this year, she was old enough to try it without me. I struggled with the decision because of her slow transition to preschool, but the decision wasn't entirely up to me. She wanted it, as did the coach. So she's now a Mini Flipper.

I explained to her that unlike before, I would watch her from the side. Not only did she go off willingly. she loved it. She was up on the bars, the beam, learning cartwheels and a lot of other cool looking flips I don't know the names of. She loved the two other girls and couldn't wait to return for week two. The next week she got to wear a leotard like the other two and she was stoked.

Today when we got there she was the first one there. I brought my parents with us, since they are visiting. When the coach wanted to start before the other two got there, Twig froze. I saw the face: shy mixed with fear, and on the verge of tears. She wouldn't say a word and wouldn't move. I asked her if she wanted to wait for another girl and she barely nodded a slight "yes." Once the other little girl arrived though, Twig was still unhappy. All morning, the only thing see wanted was to hurry up and get to gymnastics. She kept saying, "I want it to be now," yet here we were and all she wanted was to go home.

As a parent in this moment, I tried a few options. She would say she wanted to go home and I would respond by saying, "We aren't going home, but if you want me to come with you for a little bit, I will." When that didn't work, I said we could stay and watch together. That lasted a little bit, but when she asked to leave again, I slipped and said, "We aren't leaving, we paid for this class and it's expensive." Note to self: she doesn't care. Finally I said, "It looks like you're scared, and if you are uncomfortable, we can go. But if you want to watch a little longer, that is okay too." That is what did it. Together, we watched the other two and within two minutes she joined them. And within five, I was back to sitting and watching.

There really is no clear answer. I had to try a few things before something worked. Perhaps she wanted the option to leave and then needed to make her own decision. I remember going to London in college and freaking out when I arrived. I called my mom in tears and asked her if I needed her if she would come. She said yes, and suddenly I was fine. She said later that there was no way she was flying off to London to rescue me, but she knew I needed to hear that she would. It helped.

Today, I was torn about leaving. I didn't want to be a pushy mom who makes there kid do something when they clearly aren't enjoying themselves. But I also didn't want her to give up on something because she was scared. We all get scared, and most of the time we have to figure out how to deal. I was proud of her, and the outcome, today. She loved it again, and at the end my mom was there with reassurance once more and told me the best way to handle this is to not talk about it with her. She worked it out on her own, so now she is done with it.

We shall see what happens next week...

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