have i said this? ruth is a gymnast. that is, she’s been enrolled in a parent-tot gymnastics class since she was fifteen months old. it is one of the rare things we have done with her that she actively likes, actively says that she likes (maybe even more important) and reliably enjoys week in and week out. indoor swim lessons were a bust, soccer lasted one season and don’t even talk to me about karate or dance class. the kids have to be left alone. don’t even go there (is that a nineties phrase? i love that phrase.)
from an early age, she did seem to have a higher-than-average body awareness and took her first steps with extreme caution. it’s been very rewarding to see this blossom in her. she regards herself as a gymnast. i see it as a confidence booster. never mind that this also translates into her ripping off our sofa cushions in order to practice or that she hangs upside down on her trampoline nearly tipping the whole contraption over numerous times throughout the day (neck injury! warning! neck injury! red light! caution! alert!) sorry. that’s just my mom-kid-hazard-o-meter going off. i’m glad that she likes it, even though what she really does through most of a practice session is simply to run.
nearly every day, ruth asks if she has gymnastics that day. i see it as a way to practice days of the week. friday, i always tell her. you have gymnastics friday. today is only tuesday. so that’s wednesday, thursday, FRIDAY…three days from now.
today happened to have been a friday. and as soon as ruth woke up and realized this, she started preparing for the big day. she got her stuffed animal ready to take with her. and she got her own outfit ready to go: a swim suit from last summer. never mind that we’ve had a serious cold snap and it’s below zero taking the wind chill into account. from the second i saw that damn ariel swim suit in her hand, her calling it a “leotard”, i smelled trouble.
when we packed the bag (our entire life) to go, i sneakily stuffed an extra outfit in the diaper bag, anticipating a struggle once we were at the gym. she wore her footie pajamas there and brought along the swim suit for changing into once we arrived. walking through the door, greg unloaded joel and took him into the gym to make small talk with ruth’s coach, leaving ruth and i to hash out the outfit issue alone.
ruth unzipped her footies, in preparation for putting on the swim suit that was to be her makeshift leotard. after about six inches, ruth, a look of panic on her face, said, “i’m cold!” and zipped the thing back up. “ruth,” i tried to reason calmly, “you can’t wear pajamas to gymnastics.” this might sound funny, but there is a certain level of professionalism that would be compromised by wearing footie pajamas into a practice. “BUT I”M COLD!!!” ruth started to yell, the panic getting the better of her. but i’m mom, right? i’m supposed to come up with a solution, right? “ruth,” i said, “you can wear this other outfit i brought,” holding up the sensible t shirt and cotton pants i had sneaked into our bag. “BUT I DON”T WANNA WEAR THOSE!!!! THEY DON”T FIT!!! I WANNA WEAR MY LEOTARD!!!!” but as soon as i tried to help her off with her pajamas, again the ear-piercing screaming commenced. she was cold. but she couldn’t wear footies out into practice. we were stuck, as we often are when it comes to ruth and her clothes. i am the mom. i gave her choices: “ruth,” i said, “you can either wear the outfit i brought and do gymnastics, or wear your footies and not do gymnastics.” a simple choice, right? wrong. “BUT I WANNA WEAR MY LEOTARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“ruth,” i said, “it’s too cold. just wear the outfit i brought…” she hesitantly let me undress her and try on the shirt and pants. that would be right when the other parent walked in with nothing less than a sleeping baby in a carrier that ruth promptly awoke with more screaming, “IT DOESN”T FIT RIGHT!!! IT”S SLIDING DOWN!!!” and started to tear it off again. “ruth,” i said, trying to remain calm, “you are waking up the baby…see the baby? if you don’t stop screaming, we are going to have to leave…” “NOOOO! I DON”T WANNA LEAVE!!!!!!” “RUTH! then stop screaming…” “ok.” i continued, “you have to either wear the outfit i brought or we’re going to have to leave.” again we tried on the outfit. again she started to balk, but i took her out to the gym before she could loose it completely, hoping the sights and sounds of gymnastics would distract her from her fury. but it did no good. she threw herself to the floor, started to thrash about, tearing at her clothes and yelling again that they didn’t fit. i led her once again back out to the waiting area.
all said and done, ruth finally calmed down twenty minutes into her class.
what the fizz with all of this wardrobe drama? it runs my life. what would janet say? that the show must go on?