Kitty was two and a quarter when she started ballet, a little round cheeked toddler hopping up and down the room in her blue leotard and skirt and running, always running. We’d started taking her to a class just after Elma arrived so that she would have something that was uniquely hers when suddenly the rest of her world was having to be shared with this new squeaky bundle of baby that everyone kept called sister. She loved it and she’s been in one class or other ever since. And when we took Elma out of nursery I wanted to do something similar. Part of it was to compensate in a way for all the group activities that she so loved at nursery, to give her some moments with other little ones her own age, and part of it was for that same reason all over again, to give her a moment in the days when she just has to share Mummy with one sibling not two that’s all hers and all about her being the big girl.
Our first thought was to take her to ballet class; after all I do have a leotard that would fit; and I know she would really enjoy it, but something just made me hold back in signing her up. If we took her to ballet it wouldn’t be uniquely hers, it would be repeating Kitty, following in her sister’s footsteps (and uniform). There will be plenty of times in her life when Elma does follow her sister; they’ll go to the same school (God and the Local Education Authority willing), and I’m sure we’ll hand down uniform, they’ll be in the same Brownie pack if they want to do Brownies, they’ll be church nativities with all three of them in and probably church choir too.
And while I was thinking about Elma and the things that she really loves to do and trying to think of a class or a something that would really fit her my sister mentioned taking the tiny nephew to a class at a local gymnastics gym. It was a lightbulb moment. Elma would love gymnastics, she’s been climbing anything and everything (stairs, cot, changing table, beds, chairs) since she was big enough to pull herself up. And one google search later I found a gymnastics gym about 15 minutes drive from us with Mummy and Me classes on weekday mornings.
So on one of Kitty’s nursery days we drop her off and then get back in the car and head off to gym for a couple of hours. I think it might be Elma’s idea of heaven, there’s running, jumping, bouncing and climbing.
She loves sprinting up and down the air track and practicing her forward rolls, hanging off the lower bar, climbing up to jump off the blocks and walking along the bar.
And when she’s finished all of that it’s time for parachute games – and then sitting on the air track while it’s turned back on again (it’s bliss, like sinking into a giant pillow!)
She has a blast, and I love watching her, helping her and joining in while Pip cuddles in in the sling and usually has a little snooze.
I think it is really good for her that she does something that Kitty doesn’t, and good for Kitty too; Little Miss had a bit of a moment when she realised that Elma got to go to gym class and she wasn’t going to be going but I think it was an important concept to grasp that even though she is the biggest sister her siblings are independent people. There may well be a time when Elma does ballet and Kitty joins in a gym class but for now I like that they’re different, that their classes match up to their personalities and that they are Kitty and Elma not just two little Butterflies girls.
And just for fun, and because one morning we were the first people in the gym, I have a little video of Miss Elma in her element!