Fall, for many of you it’s the time of year when your kids start back to school. Here in our house Shorty hasn’t started school yet. Not even preschool. This is the time of the year when we sign up for all those wonderful and overpriced kiddie classes. A mom and kid need something to do when the cold, dreary days of fall and winter set in. Or maybe it’s just this mom who needs it because Lord knows I might go insane if I have to be the only source of entertainment for my child every second of every minute of every hour of every stinkin day. So back to Kindermusik and Lil Kickers we go, as well as story time at the local library which is FREE! FREE, I say! God, I love the library.
Being the neurotic worrier that I am, I did nothing but fret about how this round of classes would go. I mentioned in the past that Shorty is not always the easiest child to manage in these environments. You see my child is not the type who sits quietly and does whatever he is told to do. He’s highly active, highly curious, and has a mind and will of his own. The “experts”, I’m sure, would classify him as a spirited child. Me, I’m willing to bet that’s only part of the story. I think it has more to do with my parenting skills (or lack thereof) but that’s a story for another day.
I was worried that I would spend endless weeks trying to convince my son that sitting and taking part in the activities like most of the other obedient children would be so much more fun than wandering around the room opening doors or resisting the instructor led activities. I was also really scared about the prospect of Kindermusik this time around as Shorty has reached the age group in which parents are not supposed to be in the room until the last 10 minutes of class.
Well, maybe I worried for no reason. We’ve got three story times at the library under our belt and it hasn’t been so terrible. No, Shorty does not sit on the rug in front of the librarian nor does he even really sit during the stories. He quietly walks around the top riser in the reading room and listens to the stories. Once in a while he stops to sit in my lap and really pays attention. I am amused at the look of puzzlement he gives the other children when they are dancing around to the few songs the librarian does. Seems he didn’t inherit his mother’s love of dancing. In fact, when the music is going and he is supposed to be moving around this is when he chooses to sit or stand and watch the goings on. I wish I had a picture of the face he makes because it’s truly priceless.
After two Lil Kicker’s sessions I’m feeling like maybe there is a chance that someday he will not need to have my husband or me on the field with him. I’ve finally convinced Big that we need to leave at a certain time so that Shorty has enough time to run around and transition before the class starts. I’m also realizing that for some reason when it comes to Lil Kicker’s Shorty is slow to transition himself into the swing of things. He fights us tooth and nail on sitting in the opening circle time as the ball is rolled to each child and they say their names and then roll the ball back to the coach. Case in point – this week when the ball came to him and he was supposed to say his name and favorite color his answers were, “Nobody and nothing at all.” (Yeah, I could see the look on some parents’ faces as they thought to themselves how lucky they were that their child wasn’t so bratty and rude.) He also has a hard time getting into the exercises that come after circle time. It’s not until a game of red light, green light commences that he pulls himself together and joins in the fun. I’m still trying to figure how we can get him ready to participate from the beginning of the class so those first few minutes aren’t so cringe worthy for us all.
Week one of Lil Kickers went better than week two. I think this may have something to do with the coaches. Week one we had the coach who will be teaching this session and his assistant. Two male coaches. This is a first for Shorty as he’s only had women teachers and coaches thus far. Coach Bill speaks loud enough that it is easy for all parents and children to hear. He also runs his class very efficiently with few moments of lag time. His assistant, Coach Kieran, is good at focusing attention on the hard cases and engaging them to draw them back into whatever activity is taking place. For the first time Shorty actually did really great. The best part was when the class ended he said, “That was fun!” This made me feel like I was walking on air because that is exactly how I want Shorty to feel about these activities.
Week two Coach Bill was not there as he was attending a wedding and Coach Kieran was helping with another class whose coach was also missing. We had one of the coaches who speaks too softly. No one can hear her and thus it’s hard to know when activities are changing or what the new games are. Shorty took longer to engage and his attention waned more often. She’s not a bad coach but I’m looking forward to Coach Bill’s return next week.
Kindermusik was the one I worried about the most. In previous classes Shorty would get up and check out the fan, the closet, the door – sometimes even running out of the room. I constantly had to bring him back and keep him on task. The teacher and I had exchanged emails about whether or not she felt Shorty was ready for a class in which I wasn’t in the room. Her feeling was that separating from me would not be an issue for him but whether he could stay on task would be the challenge. We agreed that we would try without me in the room and if necessary she would come get me to sit in and keep Shorty engaged.
Surprise, Surprise! We had our first class Friday and I was not the mom who was called into the room, nor was Shorty the most disruptive kid. Oh, I heard Miss Joan tell Shorty to come back to the rug a few times, which he always did, but for the most part he did what he needed to be doing. In fact, it wasn’t until the moms came back in the room for the last few minutes of class that he started to lose his focus. I’m beginning to sense that he’s better off when I’m not there. We’ll see if the weeks to come are as successful. I’m praying they are. I’m also praying that the little girl who SCREAMED and cried through the whole class, even with her mom in the room, will adjust and settle down. I felt for her mom. You could see how stressed and embarrassed she was. As someone who has worn the stressed and embarrassed mom hat my heart goes out to her.
I’ve been praising him up and down for how well he’s doing with his listening in classes. I’m trying to emphasize how much more fun the activities are for him when he listens to the directions and participates. At the same time I don’t want to overpraise him for things he is supposed to be doing. It’s a fine line between encouraging your child to behave in certain manners and making his every move seem like something that needs an all out celebration.
What has brought about some of these changes in Shorty? I’m not sure. Maybe he’s just growing up and is more ready to handle these activities. Maybe it’s the fact that since we’ve gotten the big boy bed he is sleeping more than he ever did and therefore is more well rested and ready to pay attention. I do know that I am feeling slightly less stressed about these classes and am hoping that less stress for mommy trickles down to more fun for Shorty. Time will tell.