Recently, Spiro decided he wanted to enroll Zelda in a class with the idea that this would be their special time together. He researched classes (a total miracle in my household since I do 99% of the planning) and came to me with an idea. At this point, I was game for anything he wanted to do, aside from skydiving, drifting or fire breathing. If you know Spiro, these are all things he would come to me with. However, he chose something awesome (and appropriate): Superhero Class at POW Gym. Over the last four Sundays, I have learned so much. As they continue to take the class together my horizons have broadened and I’m thinking in new ways. It’s truly awe-inspiring the profound thinking a child can stimulate. This time they have created together has been wonderful for many reasons. Here is why:
Reason #1: It’s Their Special Time Together…Without Me
On Saturday evening, the momentum begins to build. They discuss superhero class and psych each other up. Spiro and Zelda plan their outfits and Zelda selects which came she is going to wear. (It’s Zelda – she has multiple capes because she can’t help herself…or maybe I can’t!) By the time Sunday morning rolls around, they are both ecstatic. They feed off each other’s emotions in an organic way. This is their thing together and they own it. I’ve found it’s so important for them to have this special time because they connect in a new way, that doesn’t involve me. This time is theirs and only theirs.
Reason #2: It’s a Scheduled Block of Free Time for Me
In total, they are gone about two hours and that block is totally mine. Suddenly, I found myself with open Sunday mornings. Some mornings I do a BBG workout or fold the laundry, and on one glorious Sunday I did nothing but watch Netflix for two hours. This has become my personal time on the weekend that had been previously spent hanging out with Zelda and prepping her breakfast. Now, it’s my time.
Reason #3: Spiro Can Teach Zelda Important Lessons in a Controlled Environment
This is what sparked the post. Like I said before, this class has me thinking in a whole new way. Raising a child today comes with so many worries. Growing up, I had my fair share of #MeToo moments and predators are always a major concern for me. These people are out their and it’s so important to be aware of our surroundings. I want Zelda to be able to stand her own ground but want her to be open to new experiences and people. Teaching that balance can be really tough. Hell, it’s difficult to find that balance as an adult. I have no idea what is going to exist in the next ten years. I grew up in a generation where social media didn’t exist. We led “pure” lives and now we are surrounded by the unknown. I try not to think about that too much, because I know it is more important for me to reflect on what core values I want to instill in Zelda and how I can build on those now.
When we signed Zelda up for superhero class we did not know it would be filled with predominately boys. For the first few weeks, Zelda was the only girl in the class. Zelda’s other classes, like dance and gymnastics, are filled with mostly girls. At the youthful age of three and half, it is very rare to find an all boy class with one girl (and vice versa). I found out this is an extremely important environment for her to experience, and is something I never thought about prior. It all clicked when Spiro came home and told me a story.
He said, “Zelda was standing in line for a drill and after she did the drill, the coach told her to go back to the front of the line and do it again. The young boy behind her thought it was his turn and got very upset when Zelda returned to the front to go again. He immediately pinned Zelda up against the wall. He wasn’t intending to hurt her (after all, he is three years old and is still learning), but Zelda could tell something was off. She knew her space was being invaded and looked to me for help. I gave her the thumbs up to let her know I saw it and that she was okay. I wanted to see how she would handle the situation. However, the boy then ran his hand across her face. He had touched her and crossed a line. Zelda became very upset, ducked under his arm and ran to me. I looked Zelda right in the eyes and said, “When someone touches you or makes you feel uncomfortable, sternly tell them, “NO!” Extend your arms because that is your space.” In true toddler fashion, Zelda took my advice and applied it. She ran across the room, screamed, “NO!” at the boy and pushed him on the ground. She didn’t quite understand the context of timing, but still fought back and stood up for herself. The boy became very upset and removed himself from the group for 4-5 minutes. For the rest of the class he avoided Zelda.”
This made me realize it was so important to have her in this environment. In that moment Spiro was able to teach her an important lesson. Zelda recognized the feeling of being uncomfortable, Spiro gave her practical advice and she used it to stand up for herself. If we continue to create and cultivate environments where we can teach her to respond to out-of-the-box situations in a controlled space it will serve her well. As much as I hate to admit it, I know as she becomes older, we will lose control of her environment. It’s important for us to take advantage of the time we have where we can oversee everything.
However, just because we taught this lesson once, does not mean it is over. This is a lesson we will have to teach her one million times and are prepared to do so. It is imperative to begin the conversation at an early age. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our girls and boys what is right and what is wrong, and what is ours and what is theirs. Now is the time to draw those distinct boundaries. The entire #MeToo movement demonstrates a failed society. We created an environment where people do not feel safe to come forward and where the predator is protected. We must break those barriers down. We might not see it for ourselves, but we need to see it for our future.
It’s as simple as enrolling your child in a class. Do not resist new situations or avoid them out of fear. We must teach our children to be superheroes. Allow your child that special time with a family member other than mom. I understand not everyone has a father figure, but it’s important to allow your child to develop a relationship with whoever that special person may be. It nurtures their relationship and will give you time to clear your head.