Tumbling along

Excuse the lack of updates lately.

Maybe some day I’ll go back and fill in some of the holes. Right now, the day is a success if I’ve merely kept pace with the demands of my career choice and the day-to-day operations of our household.

The school year has begun. And the more we do this, the more I realize we might as well be in a foreign country during the months of August and September, until we get our footing and settle into some semblance of a routine. … Phoebe and Faye are doing wonderfully. It’s Kates and I that need the support, having to keep up with the high expectations of our administrative leaders and stakeholders. Not to mention ourselves.

Then you add my continuing graduate work to the equation. I’ve just finished the first phase of my assignment for this week: Reading the first seven chapters – 140 pages – of “The Handbook of Student Affairs Administration.” Tomorrow night I’ll begin phase two – the illustrious paper discussing three concepts from each of the seven chapters – which I must complete and submit by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

But before embarking on the final three chapters of my reading tonight, I got some therapy in the form of watching Phoebe bounce and skip around a gymnasium floor. At her first gymnastics class.

You see, the dance classes we enrolled her in last fall never really caught on. It was fun at first. But it soon became apparent that Phoebe was more interested in playing with her friends than learning dance. Kates and I weren’t thrilled about having to buy the custom outfits either.

The recitals were the worst. There was the Homecoming episode last fall when Phoebe had The Meltdown and missed her dance troupe’s performance in the parade. Then, there was the series of Christmas performances, during which she mostly stood and watched her partners for most of their routine. And when the spring recital came around, we just skipped it out of Phoebe’s total lack of interest.

Eventually Kates stopped taking Phoebe to the practices. When Kates asked her if she was interested in doing dance again this fall, Phoebe said she wasn’t. And that was that.

In the meantime, Kates and I had had discussions about the idea that Phoebe might enjoy a gymnastics course more. Then, the Olympics happened, and we got pretty good evidence that gymnastics might be her thing. … After all, there are a lot of stories out there about how Shawn Johnson’s parents enrolled her in gymnastics classes because they needed something to help her burn off her abundant energy. And Phoebe has abundant energy.  
So we learned through a friend about a children’s gymnastics class at one of the local elementary schools. I took Phoebe last week to register for a class – hers is specifically for 4 and 5-year-olds. Tonight was her first class.

We arrived a minute or two late. All of the kids were sitting in a circle on a mat with the two instructors. But Phoebe shied away and refused to leave my side. … Here we go again, I thought, and we took a seat off to the side to watch the other kids.

Just as they were about to get started with their tumbling, one of Phoebe’s preschool classmates, Lucas, arrived with his mother, who is also a friend of ours. He wasn’t so keen on joining the other kiddos at first either. But when we suggested Phoebe and Lucas go together, they kicked off their shoes and joined the other kids.

A few moments later, Phoebe was doing handstands and somersaults with the help of an instructor. She was walking over stacks of blocks, balancing on low beams and high beams, swinging on ropes and doing simulated back flips.

The three instructors led the children non-stop for nearly an hour through what was basically an obstacle course of apparatus and fundamentals of gymnastics.

I brought my graduate textbook along, thinking I could spend the hour reading while Phoebe did her thing. But once she started, I could hardly take my eyes off of her. And between turns on each apparatus, she kept peering over at me to make sure I was watching.

To see her smiling and skipping around that gym floor tonight was something special. It was therapeutic.

My heart was filled with pride as I watched her, and I was reminded again of just how awesome this fatherhood thing is.

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