Monkey Boy has, for the last six months, been attending Parkour classes. For kids under 12.
For the four years prior to that, he was attending gymnastics classes.
He likes jumping on, off and over stuff, climbing things, and swinging off other things.
It was a no-brainer that he do them, really.
I checked in with the trainer last week, just to see how he was going.
“Great!” I was informed.
“It might be worth considering he do the Basics class,” the trainer continued. “This class is a bit easy for him and he’ll get bored with it.”
I brought the concept up with Monkey Boy who advised he’d do the kids class, then watch a bit of the basics class “and see”.
By the time today rolled around, and I’d been up since some stupid hour for a basketball game, I figured if he was going to be doing it soon, he might as well just jump in and do it now. Why wait, right?
The closer we got to parkour time, the more apprehensive he got. He doesn’t really like new things very much and gets terribly anxious and wants to back out.
I put my It Will Be TOTALLY Ok smile on, the one that makes you think the top of your head will separate from your jaw at your widely spread lips if you go any bigger, and got all totally out of character with some hugs that resembled those blokey type hugs and “She’ll be right” kind of attitude.
I knew he would be. He always is. Convincing him, however, is damned hard work and requires theatrics.
I went upstairs to watch, discovered I was the only parent up there watching (a similar aged kid had his dad doing the class as well). I had offered to do the class with him, but after last week, when he did something new really well, I made an A-shape on my forehead (similar to the L-shape indicating ‘loser’ that one does, but it was two hands and looked like an A) and said “AWESOME!” and he said “Please stop embarrassing me”, well, after that, he said “Ah, no, please don’t.”
At least he uses his pleases and thank yous.
Still apprehensive and anxious, they got started. He did well. Really well. Nothing was too hard for him. When more technical or scary stuff was done, the trainer had the class at different stations according to their level. He did better than some of the adults who’d been doing the class for a while.
He did well.
Until … well, about halfway through, the Tough Training Work was incorporated. This required finding the appropriately sized wall that you could do, but was also a bit challenging. Each class member then had to run at and climb that wall twenty times!
He slipped on the third. I saw one of the ladies there ask him if he’d hurt himself. He shook his head. I caught his face and he was close to tears. I asked if he hurt himself. He said ‘no’.
And he lined up for his next go. And his next. And his next.
In all, he didn’t make it up about 3 times. He struggled on some.
Most, he did pretty well.
But each time I saw his face, he was close to crying.
It was all I could to not to run down the stairs, wrap my arms around him and say “Stop hurting my baby, you bastard!”
It was all I could to not to bounce down the stairs, take him in my arms and reassure and encourage him.
I even did my best to not calmly make my way down, hug him and say “Are you ok? What’s up?”
I knew it was a challenge for him. I know he doesn’t like challenges.
He doesn’t like to not be able to do something. He’s worried about looking like an idiot. He doesn’t like to fail.
I sat on my hands, crossed my legs and smiled.
The smile, this time, was genuine.
It was huge.
I mean HUGE!
The more crestfallen he looked, the bigger my smile got.
Not because I’m a heartless, sadistic bitch (although, maybe partly) … but because at any moment, he could have walked off (one 15-16 year old did five minutes after the warm up), he could have had to ‘go to the toilet’ or ‘hurt himself’ and sat out.
He stuck it out, and kept going and did his best each time.
The adults around him gave him encouragement, which was great. They gave each other encouragement too, so he didn’t feel silly or like all attention was on him. They are just a great community of encouragers of each other.
When he finished, he walked straight out to the car, climbed in and cried.
I wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him just how proud I was of him for doing not just great at the higher level class, but for continuing when it was getting difficult.
I pushed through the pain in my heart of my little boy being sad, bit my tongue against the “you never have to go through that again, you poor thing!”, wiped his tears away and said “You’re awesome! And I’m so proud of you.”
I think he’s grateful for the fact that the lights had just changed and I was driving so I couldn’t put my hands up on my forehead, make and A-shape and show him just how awesome I think he is.