I finally decided with my little climbers, tumblers, balancers, etc that it was time to try the girls in gymnastics.
I found a beginner class offered through the city for a decent price so I signed them up. The girls were really excited and wore their gymnastics outfits that were handed down to us by a fellow twin mom. We got there a couple of minutes early and I snapped this photo in the parking lot.
We went inside a saw the gymnastics room. The girls had fun looking at all the things inside that they might get to do. A trampoline, balance beams, tunnels, and slides were among the things there. We watched the instructor set up for their class.
Then… things took a turn.
When it was time to go in, two little girls that the instructor already knew ran in and started playing with some ribbons. They called the rest of the kids names to come too, and of course our girls were called first. I was told to make them go in but stay outside myself (not outside outside, but on the other side of the glass window) The girls got a little upset about this because they weren’t expecting it and so they were nervous. When they started to show some tears the instructor told me that at this point I needed to go around the corner where they wouldn’t be able to see me anymore, so as not to distract them. I told her that would make it so much worse but she insisted it was their policy. I obliged and after about 5 minutes the director of the gymnastics program came and told me she thought it would be better if I sat where they could see me. Geez, you think?! I told her I had tried to explain that to the instructor. She brought the girls out and sat with us while they calmed down. Then they decided they wanted to go back in and try again, this time with me watching. She took them back in and they were still shy but much calmer. We had been watching the other kids do somersaults and Alyssa wanted to do one too, but by the time she got over to them they had started doing them from a sitting position and she didn’t know how to do it. They offered her a turn to go, but no one gave her any instruction so she didn’t participate.
Kylie hung out by the wall, but was in the room without me, which surprised me after the way things had started out. Neither girl cried at all at this point. The class then went to the opposite site of the room to do the balance beam. My girls were offered no encouragement to join them. After about 10 more minutes (near the end of the session) the instructor came by (to get some equipment) and coldly asked them if they were ready to join, and then simply walked away. At this point the girls sat down in some chairs against the wall and watched. After the last activity finished all the kids ran over and filled in all the chairs around the girls. The instructor walked down the line giving everyone a hand stamp, deliberately skipping over my girls. All the kids, on both sides of them got hand stamps and they were passed over. Now I know they didn’t participate the way the instructor would have liked, but they took a huge step going back in and trying to overcome their fears, and I think that should have been acknowledged and encouraged.
I also know that the instructors (there were two) couldn’t just sit with my kids the whole time and try to help them feel comfortable, that wouldn’t be fair to the other kids in the class either, but we paid the same as those kids did so I feel at least some effort should have been made. The girls were basically ignored. A simple wave with a “come join us, we’re having fun!” still might not have brought them over, but at least it would have been something.
The girls want to try again next week now that they know what to except, and with me watching, so I hope it goes better. Either way I think I will be letting the director of the programs know my concerns so that hopefully other little kids don’t have to have a similar experience. Let me say again, this was a beginning class for 3-6 year olds.