When Sophia first saw other little girls in tutu’s, walking to or from ballet class, she told me – “Mama, I want to be a pretty ‘rina!” However, she wasn’t even 2 years-old at the time so there weren’t any classes available for her. I continued to research in hopes of finding something yet every studio I looked at didn’t have a class until she turned 3.
As her 3rd Birthday approached and we moved to Fort Stewart, I went to our CYS office and began the process of registering her for programs. I completed all of the paperwork and when it came time to put her in a class I was told oh we can’t sign her up yet because she isn’t 3. I was slightly upset because her 3rd Birthday was just a couple of weeks away! So the first business day after she turned 3 I returned to the office to register her for dance – yet of course she didn’t get into a class but put onto a waiting list – #20 on the waiting list! We flipped through the other classes that she could take and her only other option was tumbling so I signed her up for that was well – yet again, waiting list – #9 on the waiting list!
As the months went by I would occasionally go online to see where she was on the waiting list. She slowly moved up the line and at the beginning of May Troy received a phone call saying that there was an opening in the tumbling class and that she could start the following week. Troy and I were super excited that she finally got into a class!
As the day approached for her first tumbling class, we talked it up to prepare her and get her excited as well! We went out and bought special “exercise” clothes, that she picked out on her own. When the day came we arrived a little early so that we could get acquainted with the place the class was going to be held. I don’t know who was more excited that first day – probably me, my little girl was growing up and taking her first tumbling class! There were just two other girls at the tumbling class that day and Sophia really enjoyed herself.
When the next week rolled around, she woke up and informed me: “I have exercise today!” I was thrilled that she woke up excited for class! Since I forgot to take pictures during her first class, my goal for the second class was to snap a few with my camera phone. Yet the second class had four other girls and one boy. They did pretty much all of the same drills as the week before – yet towards the end of class Sophia started to act up and didn’t want to go on the balance beam. The teacher finally coaxed her onto the beam and I was able to get a couple of snapshots. At the end of class, I asked her if she had fun and she told me “no just ok.” Her attitude about the class had completely changed – but I got some pictures and was looking forward to the next week.
As the next week rolled around, whenever you would bring up her tumbling class she would say things like “I don’t like it – I don’t want to go.” Yet I ignored what she was saying and stayed excited about the class. At the third class three other girls were there. After they were done stretching Sophia started acting up. She didn’t want to do what they were doing (the same exercises as the weeks before). When it was time to go to the mat to do line exercises and then tumbles, things got even worse! She started screaming and crying when it was her turn. I used the 1-2-3 discipline system with her and when we got to 3 and it was time to leave, the teacher held her as she cried and attempted to coax her into doing the tumbles. She barely did her tumbles with tears streaming down her cheeks the whole time. When it was her turn again she started screaming and crying again saying she didn’t want to do it so finally I took her and left. I got many stares from the other parents as we left just half way through class however, I wasn’t going to tolerate the screaming and crying – plus, she had her 3 chances (4 counting the one the teacher gave her when I had already wanted to leave).
On the car ride home I told her that she had lost her privileges for the day and needed to go to her room to think about it when we got back. She cried most of the way home and when we got back she laid down in her bed for about an hour. When she called out to me “Mommy, I’m done crying!” I went into the bedroom and talked about what happened. She told me “I don’t like my exercises.” I still ignored what she was saying and moved onto the next activity for the day.
Throughout the week whenever you asked her about tumbling she would state that she didn’t like it. I started to wonder if the class was worth it. Yesterday I caught her doing some tumbles and head-stands. I asked her “Are you excited for gymnastics tomorrow?” She replied “No, I don’t like it! I don’t want to go! If we do go I will not behave so we can go home!” I thought that was a bold statement for a 3-year-old and told Troy what she said. We agreed to not take her to class the next day. My heart was slightly broken – she only attended a few classes and didn’t like it but yet here she is tumbling about the house! Just to make sure, this morning I asked her one more time “Do you want to go to gymnastics today?” Her response was a calm yet resounding “No!” I told her “That’s OK, we won’t go.” We’ve moved onto our other activities for the day.
It took me a few weeks but I’ve now realized that I wasn’t listening to her heart and what she wanted to do. I was trying to make her do something I wanted her to do. Yet as I type this I know that I can’t do that. She never asked to do tumbling, even though she loves to jump and flip about, she always asks about dancing! (She’s still on the waiting list for dancing so if anyone knows of any other dance schools close to post please let me know so I can investigate and hopefully get her into something.) Now I know, it’s not about what I want and what I’m interested in, it’s about what she wants and what she’s talented in. I have my passions that I hope will be passed down to my children – we all do! Yet now I’ve realized that just because I think she should do something or just because I like to do something, doesn’t mean she’ll enjoy doing it as well. As parent’s we have to remember to let our children’s hearts be our guides!