C’s gymnastics class ended a couple of weeks ago with a show for the parents. The kids performed routines, showed us how they used the equipment, and so forth. It was, in essence, a chance for the kids to show off.
This was a great idea for everyone but C. The problem, you see, is that his gift for gymnastics is a dim flickering light when compared to his gift for troublemaking. Put him in a crowd of kids and it’s just a matter of time before you have an impromptu concert, or some other piece of group performance art.
In this case, he lasted until the balance beam exhibition before breaking out his real skills. During this part of the show, the kids sat on a lower balance beam, watching the current performer and waiting for their turn. The parents sat on the mats a good distance behind them. This arrangement let us both watch the performer and see how well our kids were sitting and waiting their turn.
After about 30 seconds, C leaned sideways and bumped the girl next to him. She responded as you’d expect: with an outraged squeal and a push. He immediately went back to sitting upright. The teacher looked towards the squeal, but not in time to see anything. She fell back on that standby of all adults: the vague intimidating “I know one of you did something wrong” stare. The other parents all chuckled. My wife and I cringed.
As soon as the teacher turned back to the performer on the beam, my little guy leaned the other way, bumping the kid on his other side. The whole thing repeated itself: squeal, glare, chuckling. This time the parents didn’t chuckle quite as much.
Sensing a pattern, I called out a general warning to C to sit still. He waved a hand without looking back, and then sat still. That lasted until the next performer in line climbed up on the beam.
As soon as the instructor had her back turned, he leaned rapidly side to side, bumping both kids. Then he threw up his arms and appeared to faint, collapsing off the beam. As soon as he hit the ground he rolled over on his back, laughing. The other two kids immediately followed him to the floor with dramatic faints. While the stunned parents watched, all three of them lay on the mat on their backs, laughing and waving their arms and legs in the air.
Picture beetles lying on their backs and waving their legs, and you’ve got it pretty much right on the money.
I called out another admonition, but it was too late. The strange disease travelled rapidly along the beam in both directions, with kids fainting dramatically and hitting the mat more quickly than their parents could call out “don’t you do it!”
Of course, Jand I spoke up, commanding our little guy to climb back up and sit patiently, but the damage had been done. Almost the entire class had succumbed to the strange fainting beetle disease. Nonetheless, we stuck to our guns, and he climbed back up. For a brief shining moment, he was the only one sitting on the beam. He took that opportunity to look around happily and smile and wave at us.
The moment didn’t last long, though. One of the other kids dragged him back down to the mat.
To her great credit, the teacher saw all this happening and kept her composure. I guess she figured that as long as they didn’t interrupt the current performance, it was okay. Taking our cue from her, we parents settled back into our places. It turned out that she was right. As soon as each child was called, he or she stopped rolling around on the mat and jumped up to perform.
By the way, C did fine on the beam when it was his turn.
He even paused halfway through so he could flash us that same happy smile – and his momma could take a picture.