Wednesday, February 27, 2008

If only you could bottle it

After Back Seat Girl's last gymnastics class, Driver and I decided to enroll her again for the spring session. Before I go any further, I want to say this: "Spring session"? Who are they kidding? Why don't they just go ahead and be honest and call it the "Last part of winter where you want to curl up and die" session?

Anyway, we were the only people who signed up for the pre-beginner 3 year old class. They offered to let me into the class that's a step up for the same price as the pre-beginners, and though I was a bit nervous we showed up Monday night to see how it would go. BSG was in her leotard with pants and boots on, ready for some gymnastics action.

Well, after waiting for half an hour at the gym for the class I thought BSG was going to be in to start at 5 it turns out that the next class up that was being offered this session is actually the beginner 1 class for 5-7 year olds who have passed all of the pre-beginner classes. It runs from 5:30-6:30, a half an hour longer than her other class. I don't think I saw BSG do anything other than heavily assisted front and back rolls on inclined mats in the last class. Well, I guess they did do some walking on the low beam while holding the instructor's hand, but still. When I was shown the class she would be in I almost got up and left. The only thing that stopped me was the look on BSG's face. She wanted to go so bad. I was told to stay and let BSG observe the class with me.

People started filing into the gym and I looked around. BSG, who is already small for her age, was tiny compared with the girls I saw around me. We walked in and she saw the girls who were ready with the instructors on the floor doing warm-up excercises. Poeple were still arriving as the instructors (all high-school girls) started to explain the rules of the gym to the seated class. BSG watched them and started asking if she could take off her pants and boots and join them. I knew there was no way she would be content to sit and watch with Back Seat Boy and I, so I let her strip down to her leotard.

As soon as her clothes were off, she started running. I stopped her and said "[BSG], if you feel like you don't like it and want to stop you can come and sit with me and watch, it's OK". She turned around and said "OK, mommy, but I think I will like gymnastics class a lot" and ran, without any hesitation, out onto the floor with her blonde ponytail bobbing and sat down in the midst of a group of girls, none of whom she'd ever met before, who were all at least 2 years older and much bigger than her, and started listening to the instructors. I sat BSB down and took off his jacket, and whispered into his ear "She's so small". At first my heart hurt a bit to watch her. I wanted to have her sit with me so I could protect her, because I don't ever want her to feel like she's the worst at something, to have such an unfair disadvantage to these girls, because really, do any of us ever want to see our children hurt or disappointed?

After a while, though, I realized something. When do we lose that confidence? That complete lack of self-consciousness. When do we get the fear that maybe we won't be good at something, that maybe we'll be the worst at something, that maybe we'll make huge fools of ourselves in front of a bunch of strangers? I know that it will happen someday to BSG. Some day she will be afraid to try something or go somewhere because maybe she doesn't know how? Or she doesn't know anyone! Or she might get embarrassed! That thought makes me sad, because I see how she is now, and I always want her to have that confidence. I guess it's my job to make sure she retains as much of her can-do attitude, her confidence, her lack of self-consciousness as she possibly can.

It turns out that they allow two levels to have class at the same time and are split up according to age. BSG and one other little girl are the only level ones in class right now, and they have two instructors dedicated to teach level one, which means basically one on one instruction. BSG had a GREAT time. I am no longer allowed to watch, which means next week I will be dropping her off for an hour with only the supervision of a bunch of teenage girls. You know what, though? I'm pretty sure she can handle it.


Kate said...

That's my girl! Way to go Alison!

Driver said...

she's gonna do great! Nice post.