In a local magazine for families last week, a gymnasium for children was advertising a free introductory class.
As you may have gathered, the word ‘free’ invariably jumps off the page of whatever it is that I'm reading.
So I duly call and book Joseph onto the class; the idea being, let our children try as many different activities as possible in the hope they will find at least one thing that they take to and enjoy.
Just before he went in, another child playing next us suddenly pointed both arms at the ground like she was about to dive into the carpet and executed a perfect forward roll, ending up standing on both feet with arms stretched out to the sides.
Joseph’s face fell.
“I can’t do that”, he whispered, leaning against the wall, confidence suddenly seeping away from him.
I pulled him close and whispered back. “Don’t worry, you probably won’t have to do that on your first day. Forget about forward rolls for now”.
Little did I know he had joined a class that was only 5 weeks away from their end of term show. They had been learning ‘gym’ for 17 weeks and Joseph had been plonked in the middle of it!
“Oh lawdy, how will he do?” I wondered.
I smiled occasionally when he looked through the soundproof glass at me.
A thumbs up every few minutes to let him know he was doing just great.
And then, I could see the teacher explaining what they would be doing next. I saw the first child do a hop, skip and a jump and then, bend forward, fingers pointing downwards and, of all the lousy luck, a forward roll.
I look across at Joseph and I can see him twisting his fingers nervously.
The teacher calls him for his turn, he gets up, runs to the starting place and ……. stops. He looks over at me once again and I give him an encouraging smile.
But it doesn’t work.
He jumps down from the foam mattress and starts to make his way towards me but the teacher is very good. She jumps up and guides him kindly but firmly back to the start, shows him how to bend forward and as he starts to lean over, she gives him a little nudge and over he goes.
Ok, ok, I admit it, I have a 'thing' about fragile necks so I give a little wince hoping he’s ok. I needn’t have worried; the girl is a professional, she made sure he was fine.
I wonder what he thinks as he gets to his feet. He looks up, beaming with pride at achieving what he thought he couldn’t only 10 minutes before. They do a “high - 5” and he runs eagerly back to his place in the line, obviously keen to have another turn.
When he remembers I’m watching, he turns to look, handsome face smiling from ear to ear. In the space of the next hour, he walks along a proper Olympic beam, crawls along the parallel bars and swings on a set of asymmetric bars.
Needless to say he absolutely loved his time in the gym and wanted to know when he could come again.
Hurrah. A 100% success record on things he might like to do.