Tiny takes gymnastics. We have class at Little Gym two days a week. Tuesday afternoon is open play, and Wednesday morning the more structured "Beast" class. (This really is the name. Perfect, right?)
This Tuesday afternoon, after a considerable amount of effort to get Tiny up from her nap, re-dressed, and strapped in the Subaru, we pull into the parking lot for class (almost on time)...and the out of nowhere battle begins. It's a tricky dance she and I do when I have to get her from point A to point B. Sometimes this is from car seat to stroller, house to car seat, or in this case, car to gym. The little voice in my head is always debating, what do I take with me? And what do I let her take? Will any of the so called car distractions cause a greater risk of incident at end destination?
At Little Gym, I try to take nothing with me except my keys. I've made the mistake of taking my bag inside. Most days this is okay, but somedays when she's not feeling it, she spots my purse through the huge glass windows spying the waiting area, and wants in my purse immediately. What she's looking for is always unclear, although I have a sneaking suspicion its snacks.
I digress. Tuesday, it wasn't about my personal effects. It was about hers. We had brought along her afternoon snack for the ride to gym. As I open her car door, I notice she's got a psychotic grip on her snack and sippy cups, a fierce look of determination on her face, and I can feel my heart leap to my throat as I very carefully try to take them from her hands. She's not allowed to bring food into the gym, and she knows this (so help me God she knows). But, Tuesday, she doesn't like it and soon the whole parking lot knows it. So, I do what any sane mom in my case would do and pull her out of the car into the cold misty afternoon and try to calmly explain the situation. I tell her she has two choices, either calm down and go into gym to have fun with her friends, or get back in the car and go home. (Now, I must tell you number two was not an option for me. I didn't brush my hair, get out of my yoga pants and drive 15 minutes just to turn around and go home.)
I'm being totally calm (on the outside), but she is a mess of hair and snot and wailing and flailing. At home I'd put her in time out and walk away until we both simmered, but it's not an option here in the freezing rainy parking lot. So, I put her in the backseat of the car, and I climb in the front seat and we wait. She's still screaming, but it's got this kind of confused vibe to it...after all she's never been allowed to just stand in the backseat. I refuse to look back, finally after fifteen brutal minutes, she's done. "Mama?" comes the sweet voice behind my ear. "Yes, baby?" "Gym!" And we head in for class, or at least the twenty minutes we have left.
The next morning, I'm dreading getting her out of the car before I've even strapped her in. But, Wednesday, she is cute and pleasant and when we arrive at Gym she puts her cup and her Minnie on the seat next to her, without a word and happily climbs into my arms. During class she participates in each activity, and we have so much fun, running and chasing and flipping. When we leave even her teachers remark that she really had a great class! I am beaming with pride!
I almost let myself slip into a euphoric fantasyland, ready to believe maybe, just maybe we've turned the corner on our toddler tantrums. But reality comes flying back at me as I buckle my belt, and turn around to give my little angel an air kiss. And, she starts to half whine, half shout, "Mama! Minnie! Now!"
Instead of losing it, I shove it down and smile, tomorrow's another day.