We’ve just become members of the local YMCA.
I think this is the third time in a year and a half’s time. Once again smitten by the siren song of the beautifully remodelled Blaisdell facility (if I, one of its designers, may say so myself) and its promise of up to two hours of free on-site childcare everyday, we took the plunge. It is our historical inability to cash in on this promise, though, that has been the demise of our previous membership stints. But this time, it’ll be better. This time we’ll make it work.
Let me explain. I hate to blame you, Bean, but really it is completely and 100% your fault. As I’ve indicated before, Bean is a particularly… strong-willed child. She wants Mom and/or Dad around at all times. When this condition is not met, all hell breaks loose.
We discovered this the first time we became members at the Y. The child care center has a policy that, if a child is crying and cannot calm herself down within 15 minutes of being dropped off, the parents are located and the child is released into their custody. Time after time after time, we would drop the girls off and, like clockwork, a staff member would find us after exactly 15 minutes and bring us back down to retrieve Bean, our little blubbering mess. It got to the point where I could literally stop pedalling my stationary bike after 15 minutes, turn to face the door, and invariably I would see someone in a red shirt giving me the sympathetic nod.
We soon realized that Bean was not going to eventually ‘get used to it’ and that 15-minute workouts just weren’t substantial enough to justify the membership. So we cancelled, with high hopes that we might rejoin in the future when Bean was older and could maybe handle this ritual a little better.
The future has come and we have rejoined. Whether or not Bean can now handle it remains to be seen. But that issue is not really my reason for posting today. On our first day of being members (again) I took the girls to the play area and hung out with them as they refamiliarized themselves with the environment. There I witnessed an act involving both girls and some other kid that made me so darn proud I just have to share it.
Everyone was playing and having a grand ol’ time. Bear was laughing and kicking a ball around with a little boy. Bean was pushing a little pink stroller with great gusto. Then out of nowhere, a girl slightly older and bigger than Bean stepped onto the scene and muscled the stroller right out of Bean’s hands. Bean stopped and shot the girl a quick nasty look and then moved on, apparently willing to forget the incident. Bear, on the other hand, must have watched the whole thing transpire, and she would be slightly less forgiving of the perpetrator. She walked right up to the thief, pulled the stroller out of her hands, and sternly but calmly said “No, you don’t take that from Bean!”. Bear wheeled the stroller over to her little sister with the shocked little girl trailing behind and said “Here you go, Bean. This is yours.”
After watching this whole thing go down, I was absolutely beaming on the inside. Is that wrong? I mean, I know that ‘an eye for an eye’ is not exactly the best system of punishment, but something about the whole situation made me so proud. I think this is because it was the first time I had seen sister protecting sister out there in the real world. Bear witnessed an injustice being committed against Bean by someone who Bean could not defend herself against, and so she intervened to make it right. Let’s not try to hide the fact that Bear has committed many such injustices against Bean at home. But here in this public setting with different kids involved, Bear sensed the new dynamics of power. She knew I was in no position to put the little bully in time-out. She knew Bean was particularly vulnerable. So she took her own initiative and stood up for her sister. In some small way, it seemed to signify a victory for family. It even brought me a sense of parental relief. It’s really true – they’re going to be OK out there in the world someday, without us around. Especially if sister is looking out for sister. A word to the wise: Don’t mess with Bear and Bean!