Last week Adriana and I went to The Little Gym. Some friends took their babies when they were her age, and I thought she might enjoy it. Plus, I thought it might be a good way for me to get to meet other moms of babies. I looked forward to it all week. And then we got there and...I wasn't impressed.
I wanted to like it. At first I told myself the reason that Adriana didn't seem to be enjoying it was that she was teething and that she hadn't slept well the night before. I thought about going back this week. It wasn't until I was describing the whole experience to Brian and I realized that everything I said was negative that I realized that maybe The Little Gym isn't for us, at least not right now. It was frustrating to me how quickly we moved from one activity to another: the teacher would pass out bells to ring in time to a little song that we would sing, we'd sing the eight lines or so of the song, and then it was time for the bells to be put away; Adriana hadn't gotten a real chance to explore the bells and play with them. The we'd be off to play on some bars, helping the babies pull up on them; Adriana would just be warming up to the idea and exploring this new part of the room when it was back to the big mat again. There was some sort of "free play" time, but at that point nearly all the toys were dumped out at once and I think Adriana felt overwhelmed. I sat beside her while she watched what was going on in the rest of the room, holding a ball in her lap and just staring. The teacher came over to try to encourage her to play and Adriana started to fuss and crawled onto my lap. Whenever we tried a new activity after that she would cry. Not fuss. Cry.
We have been attending a Mommy & Me yoga class every week. Adriana loves playing with the toys there and chasing around after the other babies and kids. I've been impressed with the teacher and her ability to instruct the women in the class while supervising the mobile babies and helping the newest moms find comfortable positions for nursing. It's not the most relaxing yoga class I've ever done, but it's fun to see the babies play and I do get some good stretching done. I was feeling that something like The Little Gym would give Adriana more of a chance to play with other babies (I know they aren't really playing together at this age, but she does seem to get a kick out of watching other kids and it's adorable to see them check each other out), and it was something that really was for her, not something for me that I was taking her along to. I actually felt sort of guilty for a little bit for deciding not to go back to The Little Gym. What if I really just thought the songs were stupid? What if I was just being selfish? What if by not going back I wasn't giving Adriana a chance to warm up to it? But then I remembered the crying. And I remembered that she doesn't cry at yoga (unless a toddling baby happens to land on her, and I think that's a little bit different). And that she'll learn to walk and play and all those things just fine without big red mats and bars to push on. Yesterday I watched her in yoga while I stretched. She picked up a blue plastic car and turned it over in her hands, studying it, tasting it, hitting it against a sippy cup that another child had dropped. She played with it at her own pace, then came to me and patted me briefly before she crawled off to blow raspberries on another baby's socks. Maybe she would warm up to Little Gym if I gave it another chance. Maybe in awhile we'll try again. For now we'll still with the yoga.