Playing Can Be Hard Work For Some

Today was the first day of gymnastics camp for Sam and Jack. And it was like sending them off to school for the first time all over again. Well, not for Sam. Sam’s Mr. Adaptable. But for Jack. Because I haven’t left Jack for a substantial amount of time anywhere other than preschool or with babysitters who he knows well.

I signed them up for this camp for several reasons: First, a mom from Jack’s class was looking for someone to be in the class with her son. And since I have caught Jack on one or two occasions interacting with this child, I thought this might work out. Second, Jack apparently has low muscle tone, and the doctor keeps suggesting gymnastics. Third, the class is for 3-5 year olds, so Sam and Jack can be together. And last, Jack and Sam love jumping on trampolines, playing in moon bounces, and doing all the other things that happen at this camp.

I wasn’t quite sure what to tell the teachers when I dropped them off. For Jack to get the most out of this class, I knew I needed to warn the instructors that he may need some extra encouragement, or that he might have some trouble transitioning. But I didn’t really want to put a label on him, nor do I have a label even if I wanted to. So I ended up calling him quirky, gave them some tips, requested that he and Sam not be split up, and left shortly after watching two of the teachers working together to try to get him to participate.

I thought it might be best if I just didn’t watch.

When I came back nearly three hours later, Jack was hanging out with the others, happily waiting his turn. At some point when they were walking from point A to point B, I saw him try to veer off, but Sam collared him and brought him back. (Have I ever mentioned that Sam is about the best big brother that Jack could ever hope to have?) Quinn and I spent some time watching the older gymnasts while we waited. He thought they were hilarious: “Flip! Fell down!” When we went to go get Sam and Jack, the teacher said that Sam was great and that Jack didn’t want to do everything. Which is pretty much what I expected.

When they released them, Jack ran up to me to tell me that he loved me and then ran off to get his shoes and the picture that he had colored (yay, he participated in coloring!), and Sam ran up to me to tell me that he wanted a popsicle. (Why do gymnastics places for kids ALWAYS have a cooler full of popsicles for sale? Basically I get to be the bitchy mom all week or I get to spend $3 a day to buy popsicles that are just going to drip all over my car. Today I chose to be a bitch. I don’t think I’ll be able to get away with that tomorrow. I was able to put Sam off for a day, but he can out-bitch me almost every time.)

Jack seemed physically unable to speak about it all the way home so after a few questions I didn’t push him. I figure that he needs some time to process it. At least I have my little Sam-spy to help me out. Apparently Jack didn’t use the rope to swing into the foam blocks, but he did dive into them. And they both went into the moon bounce, but they hit heads. And Sam? Sam did everything.

I worry that sometimes I’m just stressing Jack out by signing him up for things like this. But a week of gymnastics won’t kill him. At the very least, based on his thoughtful silence on the way home, it’s giving him something to think about. They did both say that they want to go back tomorrow, so I hope that means that they had fun. I know Sam did, but I hope Jack liked it too. Maybe once he has a day under his belt and knows what to expect, he’ll want to do more of the activities. Because, really, these activities are the kinds of things I would expect them to have to drag him away from.

And in lieu of accurate reporting from busy teachers and a snarky Sam, maybe I’ll do a bit more secret observation tomorrow.

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