I had tip-toed up to the top floor of our local gymnastics studio, to see how Lola was doing.
I peeked above the staircase railing and found her, hanging upside down, her knees locked around a bar, her braided pigtails swaying side to side.
Lola was laughing.
We began last week to purposefully force Lola to confront some fears.
She's always been timid, shy, a bit of a weenie-head. Except for roller-coasters, the kid seems afraid of the whole world some days.
So as we looked this summer toward fall, the beginning of "real" school and the adventures we want her to experience, Ray and I together came to a decision: She needs to leave the nest.
Not completely, obviously. She's 5 years old.
But she needs to get accustomed to life outside of her own house, her own yard.
So last week, we focused on school and all it entailed: getting on the bus, going to a new daycare center after school, learning to be in charge of your own backpack, your own stuff.
After just a few days, I could see she'd already obtained new confidence and pride.
So this past weekend, we moved onto Phase 2.
We took her to her first gymnastics session. It was a free morning clinic, in advance of sessions that officially begin this week.
As expected, we took her in crying, begging us not to make her go. It's in these moments, dragging her into something supposedly fun I wonder about the line separating cruelty from parenting, and I come oh-so-close to telling her we can go home.
But she needs to try. And I held my ground.
After about 10 minutes of sitting with her, coaxing her to try just a few things, she reluctantly went off with the teacher to play around a bit and I quietly excused myself to go sit alongside the other parents on the ground floor, beyond Lola's view.
About 45 minutes later, I couldn't take it and had to know how she was doing.
I quietly went up the stairs and peeked above the wall. It took a moment but I found her hanging upside down, laughing, swinging.
She jumped down, spotted me, smiled and waved.
And then ran off to another station.
Later, when it was all done, I went to get her ready to go home and she fought me, begging me to let her play longer.
"Do you want to come back again?" I asked, keeping it to myself that I'd already registered for twice-a-week sessions.
She nodded enthusastically.
That night, while she was supposedly getting ready for bed, I found her stretched backward on the floor, practicing her bridge.
Sunday marked the beginning of Phase 3.
Sunday School sign-up.
We went to Rally Day at church, where we all gathered, signing songs in the sanctuary and learning the rules and expectations of Sunday School.
Class begins next Sunday, so this wasn't too difficult of a morning.
But I'm not expecting too much of an issue next week; her Sunday School classroom is in the same room as her preschool was last year.
Lola will face additional, similar situations soon enough, as we get her involved in Girl Scouts, swimming and more.
But for now we're adjusting to the idea of this new stage of life, one with a school-aged kid and all the activities and challenges that come along with that.
- Bethany :)