I signed Jack up for yoga at school. When I signed him up all I could think about was all the good things that the program would do for him. It would teach him a great calming skill and it would allow him to spend some more time with his school friends. He would get to have lunch at school, something that he had occasionally asked to do. And it would give me an extra 2 hours of to get things done.
I saw only the positives. And I admit I was excited for the extra time to myself. I had plans, even if those plans included reorganizing my closet and cleaning the kitchen cabinets. I had things I wanted to get done without a 3 year old shouting “mom” every 5 minutes.
But when we handed in the sign up form, his teacher said, “Oh he’s going to do yoga”. And I immediately questioned my decision. And I immediately knew what she was implying. That I had signed the kid who doesn’t do well with change up for something new. That this was going to be hard for him.
Jack doesn’t do well with new people and new situations. And I knew this and so did his teacher. But I talked with Jack about it. We talked about taking lunch and what we would pack in his lunch box. We talked about how Mommy wouldn’t pick him up at his regular time and about how after lunch he would do yoga with his friends. We talked about how much he enjoyed yoga when they did it during class.
I talked it up, and up and up, so that staying for yoga was the best thing ever. But on Monday when he got up, he said, “I’m worried about yoga”. And I said, “why buddy?”
“Because what if I don’t like it. What if I don’t like the teacher” And we talked it through, we talked about how if he didn’t like it we wouldn’t sign up again. That if he didn’t have fun there were only 5 classes.
And the whole way to school he had this look on his face. His anxieties and worries bubbling to the surface. As we got to the classroom they all came bubbling out in tears and cries and in his arms wrapped tightly around my neck begging me not to go. And as my little boy who doesn’t throw tantrums and doesn’t act out sobbed and cried “but I’m just so worried”. My heart broke, and broke. And I felt my eyes filling with tears, so I hugged him tight and left him in the arms of his teacher.
As I walked out of the school I thought about going back. I thought about taking him home. And as I drove to the coffee shop I thought about calling the school and saying I would pick him up at the usual time. I thought about going back to the school or calling the director or asking for a refund for the yoga class.
I felt guilty for signing him up, even though I knew he would benefit from yoga. Even though I knew that it he would like it. I felt guilty for wanting an extra 2 hours, I felt guilty that this simple little after school activity was causing him such anxiety.
But I drank my coffee and fretted and worried. Because I’m the one he gets this from. I’m the nervous Nellie in our family. I’m the one who my mother used to tell, “you can’t worry about things you can’t control”.
And because I know what it’s like to be anxious, I didn’t go back and get him. Because sometimes when you are anxious you need to be pushed to try new things, and part of my job as his parent is knowing when to push and when not to. So on Monday I choose to push, and when I picked him up he was sitting with the other kids putting his socks and shoes on. There was no sign of the worried, crying kid from drop off. He looked proud and excited. So I asked him how it was, and he said, “Mom I like yoga, I had fun, can we sign up again”.
Sometimes as a parent you have to push them, you have to go with your gut even if it breaks your heart because you do know what they are capable of and what they aren’t.
Here are a few great articles about doing yoga with kids and the benefits of yoga for children.
On Raising Little Yogis – Germantown Avenue Parents
Toddler Yoga Poem – Ecoincognito