Toby graduated from preschool gymnastics last week, about a year and a half late. It was one of those things, I thought one time, hey, Toby is 6 now, I should probably tell the coaches to move him to another class, but then it was out of my head, replaced by thoughts of Mexican food and a million small worries that I keep around for good luck.
But this week, he moved up to the littler big boy class, not to be confused with the big big boy class, with the yelling coach. Beginner Trampoline, that’s the thing. He’s been a little nervous about it, because he’s never really done something like this without Brynn, and I couldn’t promise he wouldn’t get the yelling coach.
He didn’t, though. He got a pretty nice older teenager coach, and I watched him go across the gym to his class, not the preschool class where they play at gymnastics, right by the bleachers and the mommies, but across the gym, with the big kids, learning a real sport. I craned my head to see his little tuft of blonde hair sticking up behind the big big boy trampolines, and my heart ached a little. Disclaimer: I am absolutely going to be maudlin about my kids growing up. I guarantee I will be sniffling a little bit for the next 20 years or something. Maybe longer.
He stood in a line, the smallest of his group. He is less coordinated, more excitable than the other boys, but he is observant and so he learned some of the new movements. It was a death of sorts to sit back and watch the coach correct him, to watch Toby’s shoulders telegraph his disappointment at getting something wrong, and then the lift and brightness when the coach congratulated him on an achievement. I just have to sit on these bleachers and watch him learn how to be a little man, in the company of men.
I know that, I know motherhood is letting go, over and over. Pushing them to try, even when trying means growing slowly away from me. I sat on the bleachers and I watched him try. I was waiting for him to look around for me, to wait for a thumbs up from me, our gymnastics routine, but he was learning how to listen, to follow a leader, to try again, and again and again. So I just sat there, playing with my phone, trying not to need my baby to need me.
In the last 5 minutes of the class, he got a little insecure and gave me a thumbs up 15 times in a row, which made me feel a little better, anyway. On the way to the car, he told me it was hard, and maybe he wasn’t ready for a big boy class. I held his sweaty little hand and told him to try again.
That’s my job, right? Hold their hands, let go, hold their hands. Ache with the loss and the pride and the beauty of these babies God gave me. And let go again.