Sam and I had been brainstorming lately about activities that we could introduce to Evan. We want him to participate in something besides school, but were having trouble coming up with something that would fit. I'm not really into Scouts. I had a traumatic experience with scouting involving camping (well, I call it camping, Sam calls it "sleeping in a cabin, which doesn't really count") and home-sickness (I was only gone for 24 hours, but I was practically LOST IN THE WOODS) and generalized anxiety. I also didn't really like the uniforms, pledges, and door-to-door selling of things. If any of our kids ever asks to be a Scout, I guess we'll give it a go, but for now, No Scouts.
Team Sports appear, for now or always, to be out of the question for Evan. He tried soccer twice and, while he warmed up to it by the end of the second season, had no interest in signing up for the next level of play, which would be team vs. team rather than whole-group instructional.
And while the kid has mad skills with a bat and ball, he has no interest in signing up for tee ball. I think he can already picture what it would feel like to be at-bat, with all eyes on him. So we're not even talking about it.
Sam has taken him to the golf course, and he has his own set of Evan-sized clubs, so that might continue to be a fun Daddy-and-Me activity for him (and the other kids as they get older--which might mean some alone time for Mommy--woohoo!). Still that wasn't the solution: we wanted something with a little more structure, a little more instruction, a little more active, gross-motor skill building, but still with very little pressure to "win" beyond personal achievement.
And then one day, clips from a gymnastics competition appeared on a commercial during a basketball game that Sam was watching. Evan caught a glimpse and was captivated. Sam immediately jumped on his interest and said, "Look at those gymnasts, buddy. Doesn't it look like they're learning Ninja Moves?"
And those were the magic words.
Evan is into Ninjas. I don't know why. He doesn't know what ninjas are. He plays with the Samurai Ninja Castle that Santa brought, but it's more Defending the Castle play than Ninja play. All he knows is that Ninjas are quiet (sneaky) and they can do amazing flips and turns and other cool moves.
Which is EXACTLY what Gymnasts can do.
So after a bit of research and upon taking recommendations from friends, we signed Evan up for gymnastics at a local REAL gym (not a Romp 'n' Roll or Little Gym or other "baby" place). Yesterday was his first of eight classes and he LOVED it. (I didn't get to go....which is the first Big First in his life that I've missed--sniff. But I'll try not to make this about me. And, of course, Sam took lots of video clips with his phone, so I was practically there.) He, apparently, jumped right into the class and participated in each and every obstacle course. By the end of the class, he had participated in a number or "floor activities" (lots of kinds of forward rolls, log rolls, running, jumping, hopping, etc.), he climbed up and across a ladder/monkey bar apparatus, he swung on the rings, crab-crawled across the parallel bars, climbed across the uneven bars, balanced across the beam, ran up and jumped off the spring-board, and even jumped on the Giant Trampoline.
And, at the end, his "ninja muscles were already getting stronger."
He listened to the instructors, followed directions, got a lot of exercise, and practiced new skills (I didn't know, but I do now, that when he jumps on a trampoline, he can spread his feet apart in mid-air but land with them together).
And he can't wait until next week's class.
There's something out there for every kid. You just have to find it.