Newsflash: I am not perfect. We all have our children’s best interests at heart, but sometimes we lose sight of our sanity.
Recently I swallowed my pride after a series of small bad decisions left me with one unhappy 6-year-old (Zoe) and a huge case of sensory overload (me).
Zoe’s been taking gymnastics for about a year. We go to at a small, low-key gym where they have a lot of fun, but there’s not a ton of equipment, and it’s not all that challenging.
Once Rachel and Claire dropped gymnastics after their standard few months, the gym director suggested I move Zoe to their larger gym a couple of miles away. I said I’d think about it.
The larger gym is actually where Zoe started about a year ago. We moved to the smaller gym because they had slots for Rachel and Claire. She was sad to leave, but she’s resilient, and logistically, this was the best option. Still, I asked myself over and over again, Am I making the right decision?
She settled into the smaller gym, and my uncertainty waned. Her new class had a school friend in it. Going to gymnastics was the highlight of her week.
After a few weeks I finally took the gym director’s advice and moved her back to the larger gym. At about three times the size, this is where the competitive teams practice. While the younger kids are learning cartwheels and headstands in the foreground, the background is busy with gymnasts flying through the air on uneven bars and twirling on beams.
It’s also crowded and loud; the chairs are riddled with sticky fingerprints, and the air always carries the faint scent of overripe diapers. It is complete sensory overload. The only upside is I never have to worry about how much noise Rachel and Claire are making while playing their iPads. The smaller gym’s waiting room was like a library.
As we headed to her first class back at the big gym, her slightly glum face in the rearview mirror, I again questioned myself. Am I making the right decision?
She jumped right in, and I could already see how much more they were teaching her. Zoe has natural talent, and she’s also an incredibly hard worker. I’m not a Tiger Mom in any way, but the idea of her excelling gave me a proud little thrill.
That night in bed, she started crying begging me to take her back to the smaller gym.
Surely she’d get used to it. Surely I would get used to it (it being the waiting room). Surely this was just the change talking and this would all wash over just like my uncertainty of the last decision to move. That one turned out fine! This one will be fine!
Until a couple weeks into the new gym (which is actually the old, and man, this is getting confusing), when I reminded her it was gymnastics day, she answered, “I hate gymnastics. I want to quit.”
These two things – crying in bed about wanting to go back and claiming a hatred for her favorite activity – are not like Zoe. She goes with the flow. She deals. She manages. And I realized I depended so much on her ability to deal with it, I completely failed to consider how she would feel about the whole thing. And I realized that her having fun is so much more important to me right now than her ability to excel. She’s great at gymnastics, but we’re not looking to join the Olympics.
So I moved her back. She’s happy. She loves it again. If my girl is happy, I’m happy.