Today I worked out, keeping up with my couch-to-5K thing, and I took Catie with me to the gym. The daycare at the YMCA is pretty cool; Catie goes to the room for the 18 month-olds to 3 year-olds, and they have different activities for the kids every 30 minutes or so. Music time, puzzle time, etc. There’s a half-hour that they’re scheduled to go outside to the playground, but if the weather is bad, they section off half of the gymnasium, get out a bunch of balls and toddler toys, and let the little ones go nuts.
Today the weather wasn’t so bad, but the playground was swarming with bees (WTF? I don’t know why either), so they kept the kids inside to play in the gymnasium. On the second floor, there’s a track that goes around the perimeter of the gymnasium, and there’s also a little alcove where they have treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical machines. I worked out on the treadmill (nothing against doing laps, but it’s easier to keep track of my time and pace on the treadmill), so I could look down and see part of the gymnasium below.
It was interesting, contrasting how Catie reacted today compared to the same situation a year ago. I worry a lot about Catie’s tendency toward being overly cautious, and the way that she freaks out in crowds or new situations. Last year, when the kids were in the gymnasium, I jogged laps on the track above, and I kept looking down at her and trying to will her with my mind to get up and play with the other kids. She didn’t. She found a place to sit, hunkered down and stared at the floor. I kept getting angrier that none of the daycare teachers came over to check on her, as she was obviously miserable. She finally broke down in tears, and then one of the teachers finally came over and picked her up. It was awful, I kept fighting my instinct to run down the stairs and go scoop her up, thinking that at some point she’d get used to it and start playing with the other kids. She never did. We both hated it. I didn’t go to the gym for about 6 months after that.
Today, when we first got to the gym, Catie started to throw a tantrum, which I misinterpreted as more of her social anxiety flaring up again. My heart sank at the idea of going through that again. Turned out, it was actually because she really needed to use the potty; as soon as I took her to the bathroom and brought her back to the gym, she was like a different kid. She gave me a kiss and said, “Bye, Mommy!” and took off to play.
From my little vantage point on the 2nd-floor treadmill, I could only see part of the gymnasium below. But every now and then, I’d see a blur of blonde hair go running by, jumping on mats, kicking balls, and actually interacting with the other kids. It was awesome.
On our way out of the gym, I asked her if she had fun. She said, “Yeah, Mommy! No screaming, no crying! I just happy!” No lie, y’all, I almost cried happy tears.