Charlie was invited to a gymnastics themed birthday party. “How fun!” I thought when we received the invitation. I wasn’t sure how Charlie was going to participate but I knew she would enjoy it.
The party was Saturday. Charlie was the smallest of the preschoolers that ran through the gym while the instructor set up mats. The other kids seemed bigger, possibly older, and had a more advanced skill set. To top things off, Charlie fell on her face before things even really began.
I assumed I would have to help Charlie participate. I was mostly wrong. After I helped her with hand over hand direction during the warm ups, I stood beside Charlie as she waited in line behind three other kids. In turn, each child ran down a mat, jumped on a trampoline, and performed a somersault on a sloped mat (all with the instructor and her assistant on stand by to help).
Charlie watched the kids before her and was ready for her turn. I said, “Go Charlie!” and held my breath. She ran down the mat, stepped up on the trampoline, jumped in place, moved to the sloped mat, and performed a somersault. Afterwards, she clapped for herself and ran towards me.
“Do you want to do it again?” I asked. ” ‘gain!” She yelled back.
I stood beside her in line, but it was unnecessary. Charlie seemed to understand the concept of the line and waiting her turn. When she was up front, she expertly raised her hand to let the instructor know she was ready. The instructor responded with a raised hand. I whispered, “Go!”
Charlie squealed with excitement the entire sprint down the mat. The instructor helped her on to the trampoline and off again after several jumps. Charlie decided to log roll instead of somersault down the sloped mat. Next, a low balance beam was added to the course. Charlie counted her steps on the beam as she held the instructor’s hand. Like before, she proudly ran back to me and blurted out, ” ‘gain!”
Charlie enthusiastically performed the routines over and over again. Each time she laughed, clapped, and squealed with excitement. She loved this party.
I found out afterwards that Charlie could attend a half hour class for five dollars. Today, we gave the class a shot.
Charlie enjoyed today’s class as much as the party. The instructor and her assistants seemed to understand where Charlie is skill wise and provided assistance as needed.
There was one little girl in her class whose mother worked intently with her on each element. She performed each step expertly and will probably go on to compete in gymnastics. That is most likely not in the books for us.
For me, my goal is simple. I wanted Charlie to have fun. If she learns to follow directions, learns to wait her turn, and grows stronger, that’s all a happy by-product.
I have a new favorite Sunday afternoon activity. It is watching Charlie squeal with delight as she runs towards her next tumble.