Sunday, October 14, 2012

When Parenthood Hurts

A few months after we seemed to have Gracie's seizures under control, I signed her up for ballet class with her BFF.  It...did not go well.  She was still too hyper from the meds, the timing was terrible (right after her nap, and since we were still in the old house, she had to wake up early from her nap, get dressed in a leo and tights- NO THANK YOU- and get in the car to go.)  We went twice and stopped.  She had fun once she was there, but she wasn't participating super well, and it wasn't fair to the other kids in the class.  If she noticed, she never did say.

Now that we've moved and things are even better, BFF's friend suggested gymnastics.  Saturday mornings! Perfect! Gracie was all-in.  Awesome.

The first class was, well, a disaster.  I was sitting off to the side with Katie and the other parents, and unsure how long I should let things go before intervening (it's hard to tell in those settings!  especially because she tends to do better for strangers than for me, which I think is pretty typical.)  The teacher is extremely young, we're talking about 15 or 16, and was clearly frustrated and irritated by her, and did not find her remotely charming.  It kind of sucked to see, but I could hardly blame the girl.  I left the class figuring we'd give it one more shot, but if it kept going like that?  We'd be gymnastics drop-outs. 

But then! It got better!  She started listening and staying with the group.  She had to be reminded to wait her turn in line, but, you know, they're three, all the kids need that.  (There are four kids in the class, two of them are her friends from playgroup, which I think helped.)  (I hope you're noting all of these details.  They're rather important to the plot here.)  She was terrified of the high bar and going all the way over the vault, but we had lots of pep talks about not crying, just sitting to the side, telling the teacher no thank you, etc.  She wasn't disrupting the other kids, let's just say I wasn't looking into the 2024 Olympics.  And the stuff she liked?  Oh my god, she LOVED it.  From day one, she could somersault down the wedge without any help.  She LOVED running in the little foam hamster wheel.  She was so proud doing jumping jacks with the rest of the class, and bear-crawling across the parallel bars was one of her favorite things ever.  As long as she wasnt' scared, she was HAPPY.  She's had four classes now, and she has two left.  I was kind of on the fence about the next session- the stuff that scares her, really scares her, and it was just hard to be sure that the good outweighed the bad.  And, well, I don't like her teacher.  Who isn't mean to her, per se, but doesn't really like her, either. To me, it's obvious, but G is entirely oblivious, so I also wondered how much that should matter.

And then.

After the last class (which included some tears and a bathroom break, so not a gold-star kinda day, to be sure), the teacher came over and asked if I was Gracie's mom (as if she didn't know.)  I slowly said, yessss, as I wrangled Katie off the equipment (another reason I hesitated to sign up for the next session, the girl wants nothing to do with sitting on the sidelines).  She said, "So. Are you, like, signing her up for the next session?"  And knowing this conversation was going nowhere good, yet stunned she would choose this venue for the conversation, with every other parent and child in her class surrounding us, plus every family for the next class as well, with both girls running around, and with the ADULT coach standing twenty yards away, taking no part in this conversation, I said, "Well, um, I don't know, maybe nooooot...."  and she said, "OK, because there are two classes left, and if you want to sign her up again, you'll need to put her in parent-tot.  Because of her...abilities."  And you know, I have absolutely no idea what I said to the little...thing.  I honestly don't.  I know it was nothing bad, and I probably said ok, or something along those lines, but I truly do not remember, as the heat and anger and sadness and embarassment swirled around my head and I swallowed the pure, mama bear rage that bubbled up in my throat.  BFF's mom just stared at me, stunned, and said, "...what just happened?" And when I told her, the mom of G's other friend from playgroup said, "Wait, WHAT????"  And I repeated myself, packed us up, and got ready to leave the gym.  Absolutely nothing good could come from going over this topic.  BFF's mom was turning purple with anger at that point, and already planning not to re-enroll BFF (which is just crazy, because BFF is a really awesome gymnast and the little punk-ass teacher actually really loves her and seriously).

And I went downstairs to work out, and decided we wouldn't finish out the session.  I'd ask for a class credit for the last two classes, we would find something else to do, we would never, ever, EVER enroll in gymnastics again.  And as the adrenaline rose (working out when angry can be a good thing OR a bad thing...) I felt the angry, frustrated, sad tears bubble over and jumped off the elliptical and went in the hall to collect myself.  Wher eI promptly dissolved into hitching, ugly sobs.  Because it makes me so MAD and so SAD.  She's not disrupting the class.  She's not going to be a gymnast, but they're THREE, for fucks' sake.  Why do they give a shit if she's in this class or the baby class? And why didnt' they ASK me, so we could have a conversation about how much better she behaves when I'm NOT involved, and how much she loves being in the class with her friend?  And why is the very first conversation they're ever having with me the one where they're telling me we're not welcome back?  And why is a fucking fifteen year old having this bullshit conversation with me?  And why can't my baby catch a fucking BREAK already?

And eventually I pulled my shit together (hormones are a cruel mistress), got the girls, and came home and emailed the member director at the Y.  The place that was her rock, OUR rock, when everything was so shitty and awful.  Telling her I think this was handled in a spectacularly horrible fashion.  That we won't ever be signing up for another gymnastics class there EVER, and that I honestly don't know if we should show up for the last two classes or request a credit- because I don't want that...thing, anywhere near G, with her shitty attitude and lack of adult input.  But I also don't want to punish G, who LOVES going to class. Who is SO PROUD every time she does something new.  I still haven't decided.  Part of me is hoping that she'll tell me the teacher said we shouldn't come back and they're giving us our money back, pro-rated.  Part of me knows that will just fill me with sadness and rage all over again.  And if she says it's up to us, I really don't know what we'll choose.

I know that she wasn't bothering anyone- I had no problem taking her out of ballet when I felt like she was.  I know that she's had a really shitty, difficult year, and I just want something to be easy for her, and if it can't be easy, then I want her to have fun. 

That's all.  And I let a little punkass sixteen year old ruin the weekend for me.  Which is pretty pathetic when you think about it.


Melony said...

This breaks my heart. For you and for Gracie.

Heather said...

They really don't prepare you for this part of parenthood, do they? When someone is an asshole to your kid, and you feel that hurt for them.

It sucks.

Torrey said...

What a crappy feeling. These things are supposed to be welcoming and fun for kids/parents. I'm so sorry it was such an awful experience.

And, those f-ing teenagers who don't know sh*t about anything... I can't believe they are even allowed to talk to parents. You'll have to update us on the response to your email.

rebekah said...

:( I want to say lots of things but have a sleeping baby in my arms so I'll just say that sucks :(