Yesterday was a first for my little-big-thing, Isabella.
She will turn three in just a few short weeks and has been taking mommy-and -me gymnastics at the same center where her big brother has been for years. With her birthday fast approaching we made the decision (with her) to try out the 3-year old class where she would have to participate independently of us.
She’s been telling us she’s nervous. We’ve listened. She’s said she’s excited but not sure what to do if she needs me. I’ve assured her that I would be right there, in the shoe area, waiting and watching, and that she could come to me anytime. She asked how she could be sure I was still there if I was out of her sight. I reminded her, she would know.
Here’s my little-big girl. She’s understandably nervous. We left early and talked about the plan. I assured her that if she changed her mind about trying the class that would be just fine. I put no pressure on her. She asked questions. Her big brother offered support and reassured her that he, too, would be right there if she needed him.
When we arrived she took of her tiny pink shoes and placed them in the cubby next to her brother’s. She left her teddy bear there as well. She proudly stripped away her t-shirt to reveal her “bleb-la-tard” all ready to do her”ba-nasticks”. Clutching her brothers hand she hesitantly approached the entrance to the floor. When it was time to join the class she clung to me.
A sweet little girl and responsive teacher met us and offered their hands. My baby buried her face in my chest. There was an offer to just take her from me… “she will be ok!” But I kindly refused. The staff recognized that the rip-away approach is just not how we roll and they met us where we needed them. We were told to take all the time we needed and that they were eager for her to take part when she if/ when she was ready.
She said she would be ready after we went “pee potty.” We headed to the bathroom. As I expected, no pee came out. But we connected eye-to-eye and I reassured her that this was her choice and that I would be there to support her in whatever she chose. She said she was ready.
My sweet little girl made me so proud. In a way I was a bit sad to see her go. Sad that the season of her absolutely needing me and only me is coming to a close. But that sadness was soon overshadowed by joy and pride. Joy in knowing that the 3 years of attachment that I’ve given to her has paid off in a confidant and trusting little girl. Proud of the relationship that she and I share. Proud that she feels safe enough to express her feelings without shame or guilt. It did not matter to me one bit wether she went off to the class or not. What matters to me is that she feels supported and engaged in decisions that affect her.
This is my little-big girl after her class. She came out boasting a butterfly stamp and a smile that stretched as far as my weepy eyes could see. She thanked me about 20 times on the car ride home for taking her to “ba-nastics.”
Lately she’s has been telling me that I’m her “best friend for ever and ever.” I know this will change (my own mother has reminded me of my high-school years). But on days like yesterday, I’m reminded that being a true friend to your kids, no matter how small, is so important in laying the foundation for a trusting partnership. After all, we are in this together, and learning all the way how to pull close, let go, and find balance.