So, Deven is 4 now, almost 5. With this age comes boundless energy and desire to attempt daring fleets, like flip backwards off of the couch, scaring us all half to death. It was decision time, and this was a decision I had been looking forward to making for a long, long time.
It all started at the end of the school year when we received the news that Deven was going to be dismissed from PPCD. Of course, this news awesome, because that means that he had met all of this communication objectives and milestones. In the span of a year he went from using 2-3 word phrases to spouting off 9-12 word run-on sentences. Now we can’t get him to shut up! I’m grateful that we were given the opportunity to get Deven the help that needed, but getting the news that he was graduating was also kind-of devastating. It meant that I was no longer going to be getting 4 Deven-free hours out of a day, hours that I spent cleaning or doing homework, or even just relaxing. It also meant that because Deven was born after September 1st, he wasn’t going to be entering kindergarten for another year (Dumb laws are dumb). Thats a whole year of no socialization and no structure, aside from the relaxed schedule we use at home. If I didn’t find something to fill at least some of Deven’s time for the next year, we were both going to go insane.
I started to look into signing Deven up for some kind athletic-type class; I could kill two birds with one stone, and burn off some of his energy, and get him around other kids. I am weary of karate-type classes; the last thing I want to see is my little baby getting his butt kicked by a feisty little girl with braided pigtails, or by a big fat kid with a complex. Though Deven’s communication has improved, I’m still not entirely sure he would understand the dynamics of team sports. I thought about what I enjoyed doing when I was a kid, and then the answer became clear: Gymnastics, Duh!
Walking across the beam with a buddy.
For anyone who has never had the pleasure of partaking in gymnastics, it’s really freakin fun. Deven’s class is even more fun than anything I did because the focus isn’t on building skills for competition, but in exercise and listening skills. They get to run and jump around in circles, and then they get to practice skills like pull-overs on the uneven bars. And they make it so fun for them! I can’t even tell you how jealous I am. The floor is so very bouncy, and if I had money, I would have all of the floors in my home replaced with that springy floor. I am currently looking into how much it would cost to buy enough mats to cover most of the floors in my house. (hint: really freakin expensive. but totally WORTH IT. Seriously, brand new mats cost way more money than I would have guessed. Even the small ones! What gives?)
After the first trial class, I knew I wanted to sign Deven up for the classes at this gym in particular. He looked like he was having fun during the class, and then when it was over, he was telling me how tired he was and how we wanted to take a nap in his bed. Perfect! This is exactly what we need! Over the next few days, Deven was singing a different tune. Anytime anyone would mention gymnastics, Deven would say, “I don’t want to go to gymnastics. No gymnastics for me!” Out of nowhere. After $500 had been dumped on gymnastics classes for the next 9 months. I was convinced he was just doing this to spite me. He had fun, the teachers were sweet and encouraging, and the other kids were nice to him. There was absolutely no reason for him to not like gymnastics other than the fact that I was really excited about him going. So what was I supposed to do?
This is where things get tough. I never, ever wanted to be one of those parents who pushes their kids into activities they don’t want to do for any reason. I’m not one of those moms who is hell-bent on seeing their kids be the best at anything (unless they just are). I want them to be happy, successful, confident adults, but pressuring them when they are kids, and supposed to be learning and having fun isn’t the right thing to me. I think the world (not just Americans…if anything, we’re lackadaisical) is too obsessed with perfection and success to the the point that we’re willing to sacrifice our joy. It’s almost pathological. But. BUT I don’t want him to be the opposite; I don’t want him to be lazy and undisciplined. Like us; his parents. Our parents came out of the era where parents were much harder on their kids, and kids were considered to be assets to the family. Everyone had some use. Our parents wanted us to be raised without all of the pressure they were put through to become something, to pass on the family name. As a result we did what we wanted and quit as soon as we felt like it. I want our kids to be better than us. It’s natural to want more for your kids than what you had, and I’m not talking about money and things, I’m talking about lessons and character.
If he really truly hated it, I wouldn’t make him do it. He doesn’t seem to hate it at all. I really think it’s fun for him, he is just being four and wanting to exercise his control. If when the year is up, he decides he doesn’t want to do it, we’ll find something else. I’m not looking to raise the next Kohei Uchimura, I just want him to get some exercise and have fun. Thats all!
So when it came to Deven and gymnastics, I told him that because he’s not going to school again for a long time, he needs something to do. Gymnastics is once a week for an hour. I think he can handle an hour a week of running around in circles and jumping off of balance beams. He seemed to understand the school comparison. You have to go to school every day, so now you have to go to gymnastics on Thursdays. He didn’t put up a fight yesterday when I told him it was time to go. He went to class, he practiced back rolls on a wedge, and learned pull-overs on the bars, pretended to be a secret spy, and played hide-and-seek with the instructors. When class was over, he ran out of the gym to show me his super-secret spy badge with his thumb print. I think that reaction right there told me I made the right choice.