She made this comment to me just as William was running for the trampoline, Carolyn was beelining it to the uneven bars, and Elizabeth was heading towards the balance beam - when they should have been doing their stretching exercises on the floor.
When she gave me a smirk and said "Having a 1-to-1 ratio really lets the child know who is in control" I was at a loss for words. For a long moment, I felt embarrassed and irresponsible. It seemed obvious that she was telling me that I needed to have one adult for each of my children. Otherwise, they were surely on track to disrupt the entire class and create mass havoc, absolutely ruining the gymnastics learning experience for all the other children.
Actually, the other child.
The class had a grand total of four students.
Kelsey and my three kids.
I'll admit, the first day was a little tough. The excitement and novelty of a new environment took some getting used to and I spent the majority of the class running around after kids. Since then, I've been wondering if perhaps I should see about bringing someone with me to help. The last thing I'd ever want is for my children to be a disruption and blow Kelsey's shot at making the U.S. gymnastics team in 13 years. Sure, I might think that my kids are obnoxious at times. But I don't want anyone else thinking that.
It's never been a reality for us - having extra hands to help with the children. So, we do the best job we can and go forth with the knowledge that our kids are sometimes going to act like kids. That's why we take them to places - like a peewee gymnastics class - where it's acceptable for children to act their age.
Aside from that, the logistics of bringing help with me to class is complicated. First, I don't have any one readily available that I could call. I certainly don't have three people that I could call, which would be necessary since I have three children in the class, and a baby that requires my attention, too. And unless my help was going to drive and meet me there, I don't have the room in my vehicle for anyone else.
When we went to class this week, I told the children what my expectations were, before we went inside. They need to pay attention to the teacher and to me. They need to only use the equipment that we are supposed to be on. If they don't listen and obey the rules, they will go in to time out, or - the teacher might ask for us to leave the class. I stressed that they really need to cooperate, knowing full well that my three-year olds probably have no understanding of what the word "cooperate" means.
Then, I said a little prayer and held my breath.
The only challenge I faced this week was when the girls climbed on top of a chair and were throwing powder chalk from the bars in to the air. I made them stand against the wall in time-out for a few minutes and for the rest of the class, they did exceptionally well.
But then there was Kelsey.
Kelsey threw a solid temper tantrum from the time she walked in the door until she was dragged back out 45 minutes later. Her mother was at her wits end. Kelsey didn't want to go over the vault backwards. She wanted to go frontwards. Kelsey didn't want to jump over the beanie babies on the beam. She wanted to kick them, as hard as she could. Kelsey also didn't want to jump on the springboard. She wanted to lay down on it, blocking the path for the other
Henry, who has slept through all of the other classes was wide awake and when he started to fuss, I picked him up, loaded him in to the Bjorn and was nursing him while walking across a balance beam, demonstrating to my three children how to do a "dip-step".
Meanwhile, Kelsey's mother was chasing down her daughter, brushing the hair back from her sweaty brow and pleading with her three-year old, "Kelsey, Kelsey, please sweetie. You need to do it this way. Like this. See how mommy does it? Kelsey, KELSEY. Over here. We are over HERE now. Kelsey. Kelsey. Kelsey. Don't do that. Kelsey. Kelsey. Please stand up. Kelsey. Please don't lick the floor. Kelsey. KELSEY MARIE."
If it wasn't bad enough that I was breastfeeding a baby at the YMCA, I'm sure some people might think it was deplorable that I told a little girl, "Kelsey, if you don't listen to your mother, I am going to roll you in a flour tortilla and eat you for lunch."
Kelsey stopped in her tracks and gave me a shocked look.
But she wasn't nearly as surprised as her mother when I asked "Hmm, I wonder if you had a 2-to-1 ratio today, if Kelsey would better understand who is in control?"
And then, I laughed. Although cackle might be a better description.