I have recently started taking the boys to gymnastics classes. Yes, they do have this for 2 year olds! And frankly, it's hysterical!
Firstly, it's full of earnest, full-on, yummy mummies - the sort of parents who call their little boys "Tollow" (I kid you not!). These mummies are very keen for their offspring to become the next Louis Smith. As a result, they spend a lot of time loudly encouraging, cajoling and prompting their toddlers into balancing more perfectly, tipple-toppling more elegantly and generally shining like stars in their respective universes. A couple of weeks ago one particularly intense mummy had a melt-down because her little darling hadn't been invited to join one of the 'proper classes' next term after several months in Groovy Gibbons. The coach pointed out that the princess in question was completely incapable of listening to or following instructions, which would be difficult or even dangerous in the proper class when parents aren't helping, but this didn't wash with mummy who not only cancelled next term's subscription, but asked for the remainder of this term's money back as well. We haven't seen them since.
Secondly, although the coaches are friendly and the sessions are quite well-planned for little ones, I get the impression that the main coach isn't all that comfortable with toddlers. It's not that she's mean or unpleasant with them, quite the contrary. It's just that she's rather brusque, expects them to understand what she's said immediately, and seems confident that all the kids will be completely happy to be manhandled by her regularly. Not so OB, who goes stiff as a board (and wails quite loudly) whenever anyone so much as guides him in a direction he doesn't want to go! At one point last week, after she had scared him to death by suddenly lifting him up on top of the vault, coach asked me if he was "always like this?" *sigh*
Thirdly, I'm the only person there with more than one child. As this is a heavily hands-on session for parents, this leaves me at rather a disadvantage. OB is extremely young for the sessions and basically just wants to run up and down the springboards (he likes slopes) while the other poor kids stand at the end of the runways waiting patiently for him to move so they can do their running jumps! Also, OB can't really jump. Neither can NB if I'm honest, but at least he can be persuaded to have a go at some of the activities as they are meant to be done, although no amount of asking, begging or threatening will get him to join the obstacle course at the beginning! The only part he likes is climbing the sloping bench on his tummy and balancing on the beam!
There are other issues as well, to be honest. The class is at 2pm which means that both boys, OB especially, are very ready for their naps. NB can overcome this, but poor OB is really running on empty. It's quite a long drive to the sports centre and it's all I can do to stop him falling asleep on the way!
But having said all of that, we've paid up to the end of term and I've recently renewed for next term. Yes it's a bit of a nightmare, and yes, it leaves me exhausted (and a bit patronised!) at the end, but it's so worth it for the confidence that NB is visibly gaining, and the improvement that I hope it will bring about in his balance, co-ordination and muscle strength. Even for OB, I've seen him join in a little bit more each week. Our goals are quite basic - to enjoy ourselves, to get used to listening to voices other than mine, and to engage in a little healthy and controlled exercise. We're well on our way I think!