Cartwheels, riding a bike, blowing a bubble. All things Riley hasn't mastered yet. Who cares, right? Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, right? Tell that to her.
At martial arts last week the teacher gave everyone a break, so she could check on a child who was taking too long in the bathroom. She asked her assistant, a visiting instructor from South America to take over for a sec. He is one of those martial artists who can run up walls and fly through the air, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon style.
As soon as the main teacher left the room, a little boy who is five and who appears to be very ADHD and autistic promptly did a cartwheel.
Oh God no.
Riley started to get ramped up, and I could hear the voice in her head.
He's only five and he can do a cartwheel. I can't do one. I'm such a loser. I'm never going to be able to do a cartwheel, etc.
The little guy did another.
Her body started the pre-meltdown jiggle and cutting her off at the pass, I asked, "Mr. Crouching Tiger, do you think you could show us all how to do a cartwheel? Riley has really been wanting to learn."
He brought her out to the middle of the mat, and took her through the motions. Hands, head down, step off, etc. He held her body while she made several attempts, seeing her through to the other side. She has no clue where her body is in space. She could not even begin to get it. The main teacher came in and quickly changed the subject taking them all back to the regular class routine.
I breathed. That was a close one.
After class, Crouching Tiger came over and told me to bring Riley early next time and he'd work with her on cartwheels.
I was verklempt.
Today was her first cartwheel tutorial. Every attempt left her flopped in a heap on the mat, starting to cry. Each time, Crouching Tiger made her jump up and commanded her to smile.
"I'm not going to teach you if you don't smile," he said.
It was amazing.
She'd flop. Be all defeated, and then jump up smiling. It was like the order to smile was snapping her out of all the negative self-talk. The smiling made it much more playful and less result oriented.
She didn't get that cartwheel today, but she didn't flip out either.
She worked hard. Her body got the feel of it a bit.
I'm going to work on some visualizations with her.
She'll get there one day.
I'm smiling just imagining it.