Upsie Down

Ever since Eddie was very small he has hated to be upside down.

He loved to be bounced on our knees or wrestled with, but the minute you pick him up and fling him into a position that puts his feet above his head, he freaks out. FREAKS OUT.

I don’t know how to describe Eddie’s risk-taking.

He is very willing to try new things if he feels they are safe, or if he is sure one of us will keep him safe (aka be directly next to him through the experience).  And even then, once he realizes everything is fine, he easily ditches us.

He never thought twice about mastering bike-riding or going on the go-karts near the campground this past weekend, but when he feels he doesn’t have control of the situation anymore, his bravery goes out the window.

The go-karts ended up freaking him out because, even though he was riding with Cortney, going around the turns was rough and bumpy. He worriedly told daddy he wanted to be done.

He will wrestle and tickle torture and roughhouse for hours, but if he gets put upside down by an uncle who doesn’t know better, he grabs and clutches and cries until he is put right-side-up again.

He is a controlled risk-taker.

I was not surprised at all when he told us he wanted to do gymnastics.

beam

We were sitting down with the Zeeland Rec catalog for the summer programs.  We told him he needed to do swimming lessons, but he could choose one other thing.

Choices were pretty limited for a three-almost-four-year old. He was pretty much the youngest age for any of the available programs.

He quickly told us he wanted to do gymnastics like Maddie and Brookie (the daughters of our daycare mom).

We were happy to oblige. Eddie thrives in environments with lots of organized activities and we feel it’s good for him to learn about turn taking and following directions.

Plus gymnastics is fun and helps with coordination.

horse

It did not faze him that he was one of only two or three boys in the group, but he did love that his bestie Brookie was with him.

(side note: I played carpool mom for the first time in my life for this. Listening to two 4-year-olds have a “conversation”? Totally separate blog post. Seriously.)

But the days leading up to his first day he told me he was scared.

Then scared turned into, “I don’t want to do gymnastics. I only want to sit and watch Brookie do it.”

And then I finally got the real fear one night at bedtime: “Mom? I don’t want them to make me walk on my hands. I don’t want to be upsie down.”

There it was.

I am not sure what gave him the idea that they would make him do that right out of the gate, but in his young mind, gymnastics = handstands and walking on your hands.

He also told me thought it would hurt to stand on his head.

We talked it out and I told him they wouldn’t make him do anything he wasn’t super comfy doing, but that he could trust the teachers to keep him safe.

After just the first day I saw a new confidence in Eddie.

They didn’t make him do a handstand, but he did do a forward roll which he showed us over and over.

After the two weeks was up, Charlie and I got to stay and watch.

floor

I watched in amazement as my little guy confidently trusted his teachers to help him do all sorts of new things…including going upside down into a handstand.

Each new trick he completed met me with a smile and a wave as he returned to his place on the mat for his next turn.

bars

My little guy bounced through the stations with self-confidence. He knew what to do, how to listen to the instructions, how to wait his turn, and then how to get his mom’s jaw to hit the floor.

Not once did he falter. Not once did they have to coax him into anything.

He marched right up each time it was his turn and did the activity.

finished

In the end he got a certificate and a ribbon that will forever be in his scrapbook.

But it’s not the paper and ribbon I will cherish the most from the Tots Gymnastics. It will be the confidence they gave my boy.

He may still have control issues over putting his face in the water…and he may not completely trust me or Cortney to fling him upside down over our shoulders (I mean, we are not gymnasts after all), but he is building up his confidence and faith in himself that he can do things that he tries.

It’s a wonderful thing to be privileged to witness.

I know he will fail at things in life or just not be good at some things he tries, but I hope he never lets those things get him down.

He was by far not the most talented tot in the class (his beam work made me giggle. Grace and balance are not among that boy’s gifts), but he DID it without quitting or being afraid.

I wish I could somehow make that feeling of pride stick with him through everything he attempts. One thing is for sure, he will always have me sitting there on the sidelines clapping for him…and snapping pictures.

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. My Deborah, age 7, is very similar. She loves flipping and the like–she is a monkey bar queen, but around animals, FORGET IT. Last week we went to a county fair. They had a petting zoo. There was a camel. It took her 20 minutes, but she finally fed him. Mama is still bursting with pride!!

  2. And that’s enough, your sitting there. And your talking to him. You talked it through, he’ll remember that and he’ll remember the feeling the next time he’s afraid to try something. (I still don’t want to be upsie down although I do love to cartwheel occasionally).

  3. I don’t always comment on blogs, but when I do … Love the shoutout to the Dos Equis guy.

  4. Brave boy. It is hard to try new things and can be really scary. But we never learn how to be brave if we’re not afraid. Good for him for sticking with it.

  5. I love it! I am so glad he is finding his courage. That makes him a very strong little guy. 🙂

  6. So much like my four year old. – a controlled risk taker – exactly! We had only done “mommy and me” gymnastics previously so I was really worried about how he would do in a class on his own. It turns out that he CAN LISTEN and FOLLOW DIRECTIONS! Just not mine!

  7. It is so exciting to see them conquer their fears and thrive! Congrats!

  8. Nora’s the same way with the “controlled risk-taking.” Then again, as she comes from two parents who never learned how to dive…who can blame her? (This is an awesome post.)

  9. way to go eddie!!!!

  10. Yay Eddie! It’s so amazing to watch our kids accomplish things, even better when we know they are battling fears. And yes, conversations between two 4 year olds (and 5 year olds) are hiLARious.

  11. Oh this is so awesome. I’m glad he was able to concur his fear.

  12. Eddie! Again, our boys are very similar. My Monkey (not aptly nicknamed in this case) refused to participate in Little Gym for the first couple of sessions. But once he got going, he went.

    I’m so glad you got to see Eddie go upsie down. xo

  13. Good for you for taking him, taking him through it, encouraging him. You rock, mom!!