For the most part, I have “normal” little girls. They like to color, draw, play with paper dolls, play school, do cartwheels and flips, sing and dance, and a whole variety of “Mommy, LOOK!” maneuvers. They are sweet girls, and while I will admit to them succumbing to normal girly stereotypes in some ways, I should in no way be misunderstood to be stating that they are average. Just as any parent will tell you, my kids are well above average. Of course, they must be, since they are MY children and, by definition, *MY children* are amazing. (Spoken like a true twenty-first century parent, huh?)
So to get back to the point: my little girls, Kolbie and Micah, love to flip and cartwheel and practice their walking bridges. I get a kick out of it. I’m partial to the notion that couches are not just for sitting on, contrary to my husband’s exasperated claims. And I also strongly believe in the invincibility of my children: other children may break their necks while doing spinning backflips over a dog/ couch/ sibling, but not MY children. My daughters will thrive and survive and be happier and somehow “better people” from having experienced the danger and the thrill of physically daring activities. Or so I believe.
Need I tell you that my husband and I differ strongly on this point?
The point on which we agree is that our younger daughters have a talent for gymnastics—in the very least, are highly flexible-- and, therefore, should be signed up for gymnastics class, if they so wished. And so wished they did. So, like the good parents we are, we signed them up for a beginner gymnastics course. And they LOVED it… the first day. The second day, not so much. By day three they were begging not to go. Day four we allowed them to skip for shear ease of parenting. We enforced their attendance on day five—“daggone it, we PAID for this!”—and day six they agreed to go to without fuss, only because it was the last day.
That was last year. We resigned ourselves to the fact that they didn’t really enjoy gymnastics, and secretly gave each other pats on the back that we’d avoided that time and money vacuum into which we’ve seen other parents fall. But as the year progressed, our girls’ flips became more spectacular (for the indoor couch version), splits were dropped at a moment’s notice, bridges were higher, and backwards falls were more terrifying to watch (for the record, yes, I know I’m making up a lot of names for gym-y things… as you are probably discovering, gymnastics isn’t my thing).
And then, after a year of “Wow!” from me and “You’re going to break your neck! Not again!” from their father, the posed question at dinner from the one with the super sweet, get anything from Daddy smile: “Daddy, Riley and Olivia and Katie and like six other girls in my class are all doing gymnastics… can I do it too?… please, Daddy?” This question was immediately followed by a very excited “Me, too! Me, Too! Addy and Julia are doing gymnastics! Look at this! I can do a split!” from the little sister. And Daddy, powerless to argue against such sweetness and excitement gave in with a “well, it’s been a year, maybe they’ll enjoy it this time.” So, I signed them up.
Now, in no way do I want this post to reflect on the gymnastics program we joined. It was actually very well done and my girls loved the instructors. But yet again…. Day one was love; day two was eehhh; day three suffering; day four agony; and day five skipped because I just couldn’t deal with the drama and the what-seemed-like-genuine agony-filled tears that miraculously disappeared within moments of the “all right, we’ll skip”. Day six (after I spent an hour bribing them to go because it was the last day and I’d NEVER make them go again) was great because it was the last day, they got candy and certificates, and were told they were so good they were being promoted to the next level.
On the way home, as they chattered excitedly about the class, in an attempt to prove myself to be the astute mother I am, I asked them “well, aren’t you glad I made you go?”. But, of course, I was patting myself on the back too quickly. NO, was the adamant response from the backseat. What? But you had fun! “Not that much fun, Mommy” stated the pragmatic Kolbie. All right then, I gave in like a champ. “Then we will never do gymnastics again.”
There was a moment of silence from the back seat. In my rear view mirror I watched them look at each other, I think to read what the other was going to do or say. Then, in a mutual burst that would have made a barbershop quartet envious, they harmonized loudly “NO!! Sign us up again!!!!” What? You HATE the class, I tried to remind them, but like the pain of giving birth, it had already been forgotten and they were already convinced that now and forever, they would love gymnastics class. Or, as Micah put it, “We don’t hate the class, we just hate going to the class and the other kids in the class and being told what to do… but we like gymnastics class”.
I am not going to even pretend to understand this one. We’ll see how good my memory is a year from now.