Friday, February 17, 2012

Wonders and Woes

We just came back from Gavin's first trip to the library for toddler story time. Appropriately, the story time consisted of one story, several active songs and rhymes, puppets and a very energetic and fun story/song leader.

We had a great time. Gavin tends to be mesmerized by music anyway. Add to that a room full of mostly older toddlers and their mommies, daddies and grandmas singing and dancing, and you can imagine: it took him awhile to relax.

They started with "The More We Get Together," which Gavin and I have sung many times while reading the Caroline Jayne Church illustrated book of the same title. We also did "The Ants Go Marching One by One," which Gavin and I sang for the first time earlier that morning thanks to our toddler station on Pandora.

Once Gavin got relaxed enough to do something besides stare wide-eyed, he enjoyed dancing with mommy, dancing on his knees while watching the other kids and parents and, eventually, crawling toward the other kids.

As I mentioned, it was mostly older toddlers. It just gave me a glimpse and a listen (in surround-sound stereo) of what we are in for. The wonders and woes of true toddlerhood. The wonders of their sense of humor, their long-term memory and their pure joy of discovering something new, which are all more developed and more intense than Gavin's at this stage. It seems like those developments are really far away, but many of these kids were not that much older than Gavin, so I know they are coming sooner than I think.

After story time, everyone went from the little meeting room to the children's book area where they had coloring sheets and puzzles. There, the woes of toddlerhood became much more evident. I was surprised by how more than one three-year-old tried to hit or grab something from my (tiny) baby. Okay, he's a tall 13-month-old, but still. After one such incident of pushing by the older child, a sweet, well-meaning grandma corrected me when I gently took a puzzle piece from Gavin and gave it back to the three-year-old that was playing with it. She said that her grandson "needs to learn to share." A true statement, but not on my baby he doesn't. Grin. We'll come back after he's practiced a couple times on someone his own size.

It's not like I've never observed a toddler before. Though the fact that I am taking the time to record such simple observations may lead you to believe otherwise, I've spent many, many hours teaching that age in childcare centers and church nurseries. It just seems that raising a child is so mind-consuming that my memories of those days have faded to somewhere far in the background. It makes sense -- I need all my up-front brain space for "How do I convince him that morning does not start at 5:20?" "How many rice puffs has he had today?" "Now, what do I need at this, my fifth trip to Target in four days?" I'm convinced the same thing will happen with all of my adamant intentions of being an understanding, fair, empathetic, and maybe somewhat cool parent of a teenager. I won't be able to recall those plans let alone implement them when I'm done with potty training, first day of school, soccer teams, riding a bike, first sleepover and all the et ceteras that I cannot even imagine. I also know that the opportunity to reflect on these toddlers comes because I am seeing everything through new eyes now. Wide eyes. Mommy-of-a-baby eyes.

Overall, it was a really fun time for both of us. In fact, it made my day. I've been wanting to let him be around kids his own age on a more regular basis, which has been harder than I thought it would be. It was very stimulating for Gavin -- both during and after the story time. And it's possible that my eyes were glossy as I watched him recognize songs we've sung at home and try out new things. Something tells me we'll be doing that again.

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