On the sidelines

BALLSWEDWhen my daughter was younger, every Saturday morning we’d take her  to a class at Gymboree. For those of you not familiar with this venue, it is a play gym with organized physical activities for kids of different ages. In other words, some genius thought of putting some cushy play pieces and mats in an empty warehouse and making a fortune. In any case, it was a better way for her to spend Saturday mornings than screaming "milk" every 5 minutes and watching The Wiggles dance while she sat in her Dora chair.

To give you some perspective, we were totally excited to finally have this experience with our daughter - since she was a late walker and could finally participate in this type of activity. We couldn't wait for her to bounce around, run up an incline, and most of all - dive under the big parachute with the other kids. So freakin’ cute.

My daughter, on the other hand, had different ideas. She would rather plop on my lap and watch the other kids from a distance. I didn’t know how to convey to a 2-year-old the concept of life not being a spectator sport. She even ran away from the parachute, for G-d sakes. Wasn't that like the best part of gym class when we were growing up? I mean it's not like I was asking her to play touch football. But we didn’t push her, as we believe in gentle encouragement. Of course, she always came to life when the class was over and we had to make way for the next herd of kids. Somehow, she has confidence when she knows time is running out.

But what I find more intriguing than anything is how the parents were in these classes. Don't get me wrong, they seemed very polite and all - but don't be mistaken - there were a few Little League coaches and ruthless soccer moms in the making. You could see their eyes peering around at the other kids, comparing their progress to that of their own child. Then you hear them say something like, "Good job Joshua, " while I'm certain they're thinking, "Ah ha! Joshua is progressing leaps and bounds over these little weaklings… varsity football here we come." Meanwhile, my kid was watching Joshua while sitting in a big tube.

I could tell you that I was above it, but then I would be lying. I am competitive by nature. So it took everything in me not to feel a little on edge that these kids were running circles around mine - literally. I wished that she would do something. Anything. I would have been overjoyed if she took one trip down the slide. Or stood up, for that matter. But no, instead she lounged around on a mat waiting for the "Gymbo" puppet to make an appearance. That’s my girl.

Or, that was my girl…

Fast forward: at 7-years-old, my daughter will now be the first to jump in a ball pit, performs Hip Hop like she’s 20 - and has been seen chasing boys around school. Clearly, I now have other things to worry about…

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