This morning was my daughter’s first gym class at the Little Gym. And she was two and a half. In the usual way.
I think the classes will be a great thing for her. She will learn about what a teacher is, and learn to follow instruction, and share, and take turns, as well as all the movement and gymnastic-type things. But in order for all this stuff to occur, we have to get past the two and a half business.
Being two and a half means squirming and fussing when you should be sitting and listening. It means wandering off and exploring when you should be paying attention. It means dancing to the beat of your own drummer when you should be following the rhythm of the song that we’re all singing. It means barging into lines and taking other kids’ turns and running round and round and round in circles on one side of the room when everybody else is learning a skill on the other side of the room.
Le sigh. My kid was SO VERY two and a half today.
But the thing I like best about the Little Gym classes is that they are totally okay with that. They encourage kids to explore (safely), and express themselves (safely), and figure things out on their own (safely), and try things when they are ready and gain confidence (safely). The instructor will tell the parents at the start of class that if a child wanders around to explore, let him. Just keep an eye on him to be sure he is safe, but encourage his exploration and independence. When there’s a group activity going on, as parents we are encouraged to just participate and let the child come back and join in when they are comfortable enough or interested enough to do so. Stuff like that.
They do seem to understand kids.
So I was okay with the whole Cheese debacle this morning.
Now, the Cheese is a big ol’ crashpad shaped… well, like a wedge of cheese. It’s triangular. Whether it transmits subliminal messages that only Stinkerbelle can hear, or it has some undetected Stinkerbelle magnetic power or something, I don’t know. But whatever the reason, from the second we are asked to sit on the big activity mat in a circle to start class and sing some songs, That Baby is allÂ “WHOA. I NEED TO GO ON THE CHEESE. OR I WILL DIE.”
I spent half the morning calling her to join us in the circle, as she bounced and marched and rolled around and periodically laid down for a tiny rest on the slope of the Cheese. She would come over and do a couple things, run in a circle with all of us, whatever, but the moment there was a break in the action, she was all CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEEEEEEESE.
And then, after chatting up some of the finer selling points of the other pieces of equipment and nifty mats and other fun things to do, I finally I got her distracted long enough from the Cheese to walk on the balance beam.
“OMG THE BEAM DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN WALK ON IT BACK AND FORTH AND BACK AND FORTH OMG IT IS THE BESTEST I MUST WALK BACK AND FORTH NOW A BILLION TIMES OR I WILL DIE!!11!1!1!!eleventy!11!1”
So that was a hit. And she walked back and forth across the beam, bellowing “WALK-ING! WALK-ING! WALK-ING!” for another ten minutes, as the class went on around us. I was grateful — at least I was working with her, and she was having fun, and it was not the damn Cheese.
And then the class moved on to their “skills” section, which was: learning to do a roll DOWN THE CHEESE.
OHMYDOG THE HUMANITY.
That Baby was BESIDE herself with The Excitement. We were going to PLAY ON THE CHEESE! ALL TOGETHER! “OKAAAAAY! AWWWWWWWWRIIIIIIGHT!” So, as the teacher tried to guide the children in how to do a barrel roll down the Cheese, there was Stinkerbelle, barging into the lineup, marching up the Cheese when kids were rolling down, shouting about the Cheese, and causing three-kid pileups wherever possible.
It’s fair to say that she was being about as two and a half as she could POSSIBLY be.
I was, as you might imagine, duly mortified.
But then, the good thing about classes at the Little Gym is that while my kid is being a two and a half year old weenie, she’s not alone. There was the little boy who wailed and sobbed and cried whenever we moved on to anything new (which was every couple of minutes). There was the little boy who would sit down to play with something with Stinkerbelle and then just take it away from her again, and again, and again. There was the little girl who did not want to try ANYTHING that the class was doing. AT ALL. There was the little girl who insisted on having ALL THE BALLS.
So in actual fact, my kid fit RIGHT IN. The Cheese may stand alone, but she’s in good company.
It’s a blast. It’s chaos, to be sure, but it is mostly merry chaos, and two and a half year olds can be exactly who they are and have a whale of a time doing it.
By the end of class, when bubbles were blown and hands were stamped (I had to make mention of the fact that today’s colour of ink stamp, brown, might not work well on children with brown skin, just sayin’, and maybe not yellow either, how about blue?) and it was time to leave, Stinkerbelle was worn out. She was pooped right out. We sat down to get our shoes on and she said, quite emphatically, “BED!”
Anything that is that much fun for her and wears her out so entirely is totally 100% worth the money we paid for it. (Not to mention the Child Fitness Tax Credit. WOOT!)
So my child is now tucked up in bed having a long, deep sleep. And I myself am pretty pooped out too, I can’t lie.
What I wouldn’t give right now to have a nap. And a Cheese of my own to crash out on.