Thursday, September 20, 2007

I think baby classes are called enrichment activities because of how much they cost

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.


clara said...

The yoga class sounds great! In time you will find more baby friends for her and it will be better. Yesterday I got excited about buying a real frame baby backpack & I put my little guy in it and he screamed his head off in the REI store. Sometimes you try to do fun stuff for them & they hate it. But, she might like it later..

Elizabeth said...

I know that it's not the end of the world if she doesn't like something the first time she tries it. I think she may enjoy it more once she's running around a bit. I mean, it looks like such a fun place, with the bars and trampolines and mats and all.

We're going to be looking at one of those frame backpacks soon before too long, you'll have to let me know what you think. I just ordered a Beco.

Shawna said...

We have had so many experiences like this with Cedar, trying to find the right balance of social time with moms for me and kids for him, and structure or no. I have ended up finding lots of cool things to do with no structure. Around here, there is a gymnastics place that has a free play hour for little kids. Anyway, I think kids get rushed into things, so I love to hear your story of going at Adriana's pace. (And we have a Deuter backpack that we love. Cedar cried in the REI pack too.)

Paranoid said...

If it helps at all, we've been distinctly un-impressed by The Little Gym. Our playgroup had the kids' first birthday party there, and it seemed just a hair too disorganized for that age. I took M (22 months) back recently for a trial class, and things didn't get much better. I agree with you about the scattershot nature of the class.

Are you at all interested in music classes? Lost of the kids I know (M included) seem to thrive in them.

Abigail said...

We have had good experiences at the Little Gym. I too think the activity switch is a bit too fast but both of my boys have a lot of gross motor energy so all the running and climbing is really good for them.

Of course, not everything works for every child, and not everything works for the same child at different stages!

(I do agree, the songs are stupid.)

Elizabeth said...

Shawna, I have heard good things about the Deuter backpack. We'll have to try that one on at some point.

Abigail: I think we may try Little Gym again in six months or so. It looks like so much fun for kids who are really running around.

Paranoid: I would like to do a music class at some point. When Adriana's a bit older I want to do Music Together. I went once with a child that I used to babysit, and it was so fun. Plus, Adriana really seems to like music. She starts bouncing when I turn on the stereo.