I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments in the past week. My limited mobility has forced me to accept that I’m just going to have deal with things being “different” for the next bit of time.
Different is not something I do well with, unless I initiate it. I could sit around and untwist all the reasons why, but let’s just leave it as fact. I don’t do well with “different.” I don’t do “flexible” well. I don’t do well with “unexpected.”
This is not clearer to me than when I watch my helper with my daughter.
I understand that “different” doesn’t mean “lesser.” That it’s good for a child to adjust to different expectations.
But there are times when different does mean “not enough.” Watching E’s gymnastics class, this was made blindingly clear. I watched as my helper was passive while my daughter did concrete things (shaking one of the four safety lines that keep the uneven bars stable until the whole thing shook, ducking under a child who was attempting to “bear crawl” across some even bars thereby endangering them both) without correction or distraction, and made no effort to engage her in the “activities of the day” or even to observe the teacher doing them so that she could introduce when E at a later time.
I’ve been in E’s gymnastics class with her (barring the occasional bout of flu or double booking) for over a year. I know how to safely spot her as she practices flips, how to safely enable her to do a front summersault on the balance beam, and the difference between normal toddler wandering off and encouraging her to participate. In May she’ll move up to the class where parents either mostly sit quietly at the wall and eventually (when she’s 3 in November) are not allowed in the room at all during class and she’ll have to adapt to a more formal (while still allowing for her young age) class. I think I have a good read on when to push her to work on waiting her turn and when to let her just run off and do something else.
While B has been coming to our classes with us (there are potential stairs and navigation issues regarding my back that mean she usually comes with us to most things) and sitting in the waiting room during class, that doesn’t mean she has developed the same senses or the same skill set.
With that in mind, I made the hard decision to withdraw E from gymnastics this term. I tried to think if there were a way I could communicate to B what I want from an adult accompanying E to gymnastics was…and while I can point to concrete things (don’t let her duck under another child…pick her up and stop it before it happens), I can’t pass on intuition about when to push and when not to, and how to slowly teach a child to participate more fully. It isn’t the money (although at 30 bucks a class, it isn’t cheap) as much as it is that I think bad behaviors are being reinforced through B’s passivity.
I have compassion for B in all of this, which is why I haven’t told her yet (the events are all less than 5 hours old), and I’m trying to think of a way to explain my choice to her in a way that won’t hurt her feelings. It must be difficult to be the helper in a room of moms in a culture where you are treated like a second class citizen (although I certainly try to shield her from as much of that as I can). She is a fairly retiring personality, and E is a strong one to match my own level of stubborn (frighteningly…perhaps moreso). We are raising Elanor in a way that is foreign to her, and what seems obvious to me is likely far less so to her. While we do have a constant discussion going on about this, at the end of the day I can’t expect her to react like I do because she isn’t me.
I accept that she lets E get away with many things I don’t. And on an everyday, in our home, or wandering around scenario that is okay. Generally, as with Ravi or other people, I am just happy to see E in one piece at the end of the day and don’t ask too many questions. I’m probably better off not knowing, in truth.
It hurt to pull her. I know she loves “nastics” class and Teacher J.
Maybe it’s the impending period and the heightened emotions that come with it, but all I want to do is cry. As her mom, I’m helpless in this. I can’t get in there in the chair and I can’t hop around using my walker on one foot for an hour (not to mention it wouldn’t work with all the big mats) and use my hands to spot her as I try not to let my left foot down or to let it take so much as an ounce of my weight.
I wonder how moms who are in wheelchairs all the time do it. I understand a little better why a friend back home who is legally blind lets her mom (who she doesn’t agree with on many parenting philosophy items) have so much say in her son’s life.
I feel useless as a parent right now.