It’s a Saturday. Saturday is a day of frozen waffles, fresh brewed coffee, the morning paper, the Disney Channel and… Gymnastics.
Gymnastics is pink leotards, bare feet, nervous kids, summersaults, dancing and lunch at McDonalds.
Normally, we go as a family – our morning ritual of family time and lunch. This particular Saturday, however, Mommy has a cold so I am tasked with taking the kids on my own. This isn’t a problem and I hustle to get the kids ready to go. It is during this time that Swee’Pea announces she doesn’t want to go to gymnastics.
Now, Swee’Pea is a someone who fights her shyness whenever she’s in a public setting. Lately, I’ve been very proud of the fact that she seems to be beating that shyness more than losing to it. We have talked a lot about being brave and trying even when you’re scared and she often takes those talks to heart. It’s been so heartening to see that growth.
But that growth didn’t manifest itself on this Saturday. Her early grumbling about not wanting to go to gymnastics lasted the entire drive and continued as we took off shoes and got ready for class to start. TheMonk, who at this point has been going along just fine, sees an opportunity and begins to whine about not wanting to go to gymnastics too. Suddenly, I’m outnumbered.
Class begins and they become shy and begin clutching my legs. The 15 other boys and girls make their way to the room and mine continue to clutch me out in the hall. I explain to them that I’m not going to play this game and that if they don’t want to participate then we will go home. No summersaults. No dancing. No McDonalds.
I can tell that TheMonk could be persuaded by this argument and he starts to head into the room. Until he noticed that his sister wasn’t budging. Then, he dug his heels in too. Neither of them would budge even after several attempts and warnings that we would go home. So at this point, I called their bluff. Or maybe they had called mine. I’m not sure. Either way, I was done. I started to head over to the cubbies to get their shoes and announced that we were leaving. That’s when the screaming commenced.
TheMonk, realizing that his Happy Meal was now slipping from his grasp began a full-scale tantrum. Swee’Pea began crying. She let me put her shoes on but she knew that I wasn’t happy. I couldn’t get TheMonk’s shoes on with all the kicking so I grabbed his shoes in one hand and I grabbed TheMonk with my other hand and threw him up over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes as he kicked and screamed. Swee’Pea followed at my side, tears streaming down her face as we made our way into the car where I strapped two crying four year olds into their car seat and started the drive home.
Upon arriving at home about 8 minutes later, I took them upstairs and sent them to their room where they continued to cry for another five minutes. It wasn’t until after they stopped crying that I made my way inside. I asked them to join me on the floor and we sat facing each other. I calmly explained that what they did today is not okay. That if they are feeling scared or unsure of something that they have to use their words and not their tears. I told them that their behavior was very disappointing. I was disappointed in them because of their behavior. Upon hearing this news, both of their heads dropped and I could tell that what I was saying was making an impact. We ended the discussion with promises to try harder and apologies to me for their behavior.