Tuesday, March 28, 2006

SPT {Time-3}


The longest 45 minutes of my week...

A couple of months ago this mama had a brilliant idea. If my child was going to insist on being a daredevil then I might as well sign him up for a class that would allow him to do just that. I mean, if he's going to jump from couch to chair, from chair to rocking horse, from rocking horse to floor, then he might as well learn to do it safely, right? I might as well put him in an environment that will not only allow him to put some of this energy to good use, but it will also teach him the invaluable lesson of tuck-and-roll. Brilliant! Yea, right... It was brilliant right up until the moment he actually had to go to class. Once he realized the shoes and socks had to come off and mommy didn't get to go with him then all hell broke loose. There was much clinging and grasping. There was much whining and screaming. And there were those eyes...the pleading ones that look right into your heart and beg you to save them from this torture, the eyes that you can sense upon you from 100 yards away, asking, in all their childlike innocence, how you can possibly do something so horrific to them and still live with yourself. Yes it was a nightmare.

And over the course of the last few weeks there has been total lack of participation! As the other kids warm up, he sits. When the teacher asks him to do something, he turns his back on her, pretending she doesn't even exist. While his classmates run the length of a long trampoline, he walks AS.SLOW.AS.HUMANLY.POSSIBLE, and then looks over at me as if to say, "I told you." Yes, it is the longest 45 minutes of my life. He cries the entire time and I sit with all the other parents (whose kids aren't crying) wringing my hands and questioning my ability to even be allowed to be a parent. The frustrating thing is that this isn't anything he can't do. We've been to this facility before for a birthday party and he played on all the equipment just fine. The trampoline was his best friend...and the rings, the ones in which he got to swing out over a pit of foam blocks and drop--awesome! He can do all the activities. He just won't. Not in a class setting anyway. So for the past two months I have spent every Tuesday night wondering if I've made a huge mistake. What kid wouldn't want to jump and climb and hurl their body into a pit of foam blocks and then get strapped to a bungee swing and fly through the air? Well, mine! And every Tuesday I make him. Not because I'm cruel but because I'm hoping that with time he'll get adjusted to the class setting and let loose. In the meantime, I endure 45 minutes of extreme guilt. All the other parents have built relationships with each other and they spend the 45 minutes laughing and talking and exchanging recipes. I spend it in detached silence, knots in my stomach and my heart in my throat.

And finally, after a long and painful two months it happened. The moment I dreamed about finally occurred. Britton decided to stop crying and participate. Yes, there was still the initial clinging and grasping, the teacher trying to pry his hand loose from the tail of my shirt, but once he got on the trampoline all the tears vanished and he did all the things I knew he could do (because I'd seen him do it on our couch at home). There was jumping. There were somersaults. There was his tiny body giggling with glee inside of a pit of foam blocks. And there was mommy, finally breathing, tears in my eyes because I was so proud that my son finally realized he could not only do this, he could do without me holding his hand.

23 Comments:

Blogger Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

What a happy ending! 45 mins. and two months!

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Irene said...

what. a. perfect. SPT.

9:41 PM  
Blogger snowsparkle said...

Yay Mommy! You did it! I had so much the same gut wrenching experience watching my son in aikido class. He participated willingly, but he was so terrified by the stern sensei that he was afraid of doing anything wrong. Being patient and letting him find his confidence was one of the hardest things to do, but so necessary and rewarding.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

Beautiful!

10:49 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

Bittersweet?

3:13 AM  
Blogger The Whole Self said...

love it! happiness.

3:24 AM  
Blogger gkgirl said...

HURRAY!

that must have felt so
undeniably good...
and none of it had to do with
being a bad parent
(as i assure you, you are NOT)
but just with his temperment
and his own limits and boundaries
and he was just trying to figure them out...
my own little guy
was a little like that too...
at home, he is cheerful and confident
not shy, talk your ever-loving ear off
but
when it came to going with someone
to visit...he would break down...
if i couldn't go, he wouldn't go...
and those eyes,
those big sad puppy dog eyes..

yay for jumping in!
(and wouldn't it be cool if they
offered a class like that for adults?)
heehee
:)

3:26 AM  
Blogger acumamakiki said...

It took Ava about 2 months of screwing around before she'd participate in anything class oriented when I was around. A model citizen at school, when she had me in her sight, all hell would break loose. She wouldn't listen, would run around when we'd do circle time and I'd be sitting there cringing.
This is a GREAT SPT Michelle, I love that you captured such a sweet moment in Britton's development. You'll look back and laugh as well as cherish this photo.

4:07 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

I hear the strength this took in you and how deeply you love your son, to be with him and support him from the sidelines as he found his way to jumping and leaping. He's so lucky to have you.

5:35 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Yea Britton!

6:01 AM  
Blogger Trish said...

What a Beatifully perfect SPT Michelle! Sometimes it's very hard to do the right thing as an encouraging parent AND to stick with it.

Yeah for Britton to find the courage and conquer his fear!

6:13 AM  
Anonymous Charmaine said...

How wonderful! I love the photos.

6:31 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

...chuckling..ok the pic when your driving and he is in the backseat...you just got a glimpse of his teenage self.

He is too cute Michelle,
Good job Mama!
a.

6:37 AM  
Blogger melba said...

I am glad this came with such a happy ending.
I had a similiar experience with Ethan this year when I signed him up for library group. He is the youngest in the class and one of the only boys. Most of the other children say bye to their parents and then walk downstairs to story/craft/song time and then sit and smile and pay attention. But not Ethan...for weeks I had to stay down there with hime...until slowly I could walk hime down and then leave...and then finally I could just walk him to the door...and now sometimes, but still not always, he walks down himself. It is a difficult process.
You're a good mom. Still-I understand and can relate to the doubt.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Ohhhh i'm so glad this had a happy ending!! When I took Jack to toddler time for a month, every week whenever they brought out the giant papachute to play with her would start screaming and crying and refuse to play in it, all the other kids were fine, I remember that stress out I'm a loser mom feeling and it so sucks, I wish I could have been there to sit beside you and keep you company until little Britton came around. Now he'll probably LOVE goign to class.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Glamorous Jo said...

The photo in the bottom right corner cracks me up. Britton's face in the background...too funny!

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

I've had a similar experience with swim lessons. So similar. But I trusted my gut and felt like he needed to be there - even when it meant a lack of participation and the need for constant and soft words from me. It wasn't always pretty. I felt mixed emotions when he cried or refused to do something while everyone else looked on (parents, instructors, other kids). But when he finally decided he was ready to go into the water on his own, with no need for anything from me but smiles and waves - it was worth it. He was proud, and he had learned he could do something he didn't think he was capable of doing. not swimming - but trying in his own way, at his own pace - and going further than I think he felt he could go.

What a gift you gave your little guy - to believe in him and wait it out.

9:34 AM  
Blogger GreenishLady said...

That is such a milestone to achieve. Well done on sticking with it. He will thank you for that in time.Love seeing that happy little face.

11:02 AM  
Blogger liz elayne said...

beautiful. you hung in with this and created an amazing opportunity for your son to grow. i love this.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous bella said...

that's awesome, Michelle! it did take time, but it happened. i'm so happy for you both.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous beansprout said...

See! You know your boy! You knew it would just be a matter of time! And so you sat and waited and watched and felt uncomfortable and guilty and then...yes! He emerged. Just like you knew he would. New births all the time. And all we have to do is TRUST enough to let them happen in their own time. beautiful post.

1:41 PM  
Blogger ArtsyMama said...

TOTALLY know what you're talking about. Ugh!!! This happens to me all the time. I'm so glad there's a happy ending to the story. For that you can be thankful:) Thanks for sharing.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Letha Sandison said...

First of all, wonderful pictures! What a doll he is!!

I can so relate to this! My son cried, screamed and literally had to be pulled from around my neck for the first FOUR MONTHS of pre-school!! His teacher looked at me one day and said, "this is the longest I've ever seen a child do this". GULP. I felt like, what am I doing wrong?? I would cry the entire way home.

Sometimes new things just take time. I think they want to be with us so they tug our easily manipulated heart strings. They KNOW we hate to see them upset so it is an effective way to get out of things. I am glad you stuck it out and your son decided to join in the fun.

My mother in law is a chid development specialist and I talked to her when my son was doing this to me. She said, "he's fine, he knows it upsets you when he cries and he doesn't want to go so he's punishing you. Kids are so resilent and I bet he is over it the minute he knows you can't see him, just stick it out." I asked his teacher if he stoped crying when I left and she said yes. Hum, ok then I thought. Sure enough, after four months, he stopped and would just run in and away from me happy to be with his friends. PHEW!

So BRAVO for winning one of the many power struggles and surviving the mommy guilt!!

7:38 PM  

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