My eldest daughter has just upset me. Not much, but just a little.
So what great crime has she committed? No crime at all, but she has decided she no longer wants to do gymnastics.
The reason for the upset? Well, truth be told, she was rather good at it.
There was a time, not too long ago, when Helen didn’t walk anywhere, she cartwheeled. On the way out of the playground every day, I would loose sight of her for just a second and then all of a sudden her legs would come flying past me as she cartwheeled towards the gate.
What’s more, she rarely used two hands. These were usually one-handed cartwheels.
She’d also spend long periods of time in the kitchen doing handstands or pulling the splits. She would often do this right as Mrs Adams and I were trying to cook dinner but you couldn’t tell her off, she was just indulging in one of her interests and one she seemed to enjoy greatly.
She entered a couple of competitions. Sure, she didn’t win anything but got a respectable number of points.
I had noticed she had stopped practicing so much at home. Even so, the request to drop gymnastics altogether came as a bit of a surprise.
She assured me there were no problems with the other kids in her class. In fact she seemed to be forging quite a strong friendship with one of the girls. If she doesn’t keep going to the classes I suspect this friendship will wither as it’s the only place we see this girl.
While I think it’s very sad she’s given up, part of me was, secretly, just a tiny bit, happy. I’ve written on numerous occasions about my concerns about the number of after school clubs Helen and her sister Izzy were doing.
Despite my attempts to rationalise things, we actually ended up going the other way and between the two girls they have been doing more activities recently. The loss of gymnastics is no bad thing for my schedule.
It was at an awkward time of night: 5.30pm-6.30pm. Getting there on time, getting back and keeping Izzy entertained while her sister had her lesson was a real bind.
I was recently reading the book Raising Girls, written by psychologist and parenting educator Steve Biddulph. One comment in the book struck a chord with me.
He said it wasn’t good for kids to do too many after school activities. I’ll paraphrase, but he said it overloads kids and that they shouldn’t be rushed from club to club all the time.
I had, for a little while now, been concerned that the constant rush of the school run, followed by rush to get to activities on different days of the week was doing the family no good. Loosing the most awkward one would help us all to lead a more relaxed life.
As you can tell, it’s been a little bitter-sweet. Helen is dropping an activity that she seemed to enjoy and was good at, which makes me a little sad. On the other hand, we all lead a less stressful life as a result and that is no bad thing.
What’s puzzled me, however, is why she suddenly wishes to drop gymnastics? She just can’t, or maybe won’t, really explain it.
Mrs Adams and I aren’t going to push Helen to continue with something she doesn’t want to do. Nonetheless, it would be good to know why she doesn’t want to do it, more than anything in case there’s something we need to be concerned about or in case there has been an incident of which we have no knowledge.
Then again, maybe this is just one of those mysteries us parents have to deal with from time to time. It’s a shame, but I will admit I’m delighted to have reclaimed one evening a week from the madness of the after school club.