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What Do You Do When Your Baby Hates Mommy and Me Classes?

posted February 18, 2015 by Moms in Tow (Kara)

What Do You Do When Your Baby Hates Mommy and Me Classes?

By Elizabeth Morales

An enticing and colorful advertisement for a Mommy and Me gymnastics class just breezed across my newsfeed. At first glance, I actually considered clicking on the link, thinking to myself, "Marshall and I would have so much fun together at that class. He would be such a cutie learning tricks and bouncing on the trampoline. It would be especially fantastic since our tramp is tucked away in the basement right now. He could run and jump and be free!"
Then, reality set in, and I remembered that my sweet son does not enjoy taking part in group activities. Especially ones that involve another adult encouraging playtime with other kids, or where choreographed movement is necessary, or scripted singing is required, or basically any time his mom wants him to do anything that is not his own idea.
So, as I thought to myself what a cool notion a Mommy and Me gymnastics class would be, I knew that it was not actually meant for Marshall and Me. I kept on scrolling.

Honestly, none of my children has ever had a desire to join in during those mama and baby group activities. After many years of being a mother to toddlers and preschoolers, I eventually...finally...had that moment when I just accepted it. With that acceptance, came the realization that it's fine! My young kids are just fine without attending any sort of regular class, and their mama is a lot more relaxed without having to worry about it.
Being the library fanatic that I am, I had always envisioned that Story Hour was going to be a magical place for us. Sitting on the floor, listening to smiley librarians introduce Open, Shut Them and Wheels on the Bus to the babies on my lap was supposed to be a delightful bonding experience. With each child, I had high hopes that they would enjoy it as much as I did. Sure, they loved books and reading and singing and cuddling at home. Then, once we were in a public setting, it was a whole different ballgame.
They absolutely hated it! They revolted. They stood up when it was time to sit. They walked around when it was time to stand in place. They NEVER sang the words or rolled their hands in the famous wheeling motion. When I tried to sing along (because what adult can resist joining in to every chorus of those songs?), they shushed me. My babies shushed me.
I was a sweaty, stressed-out, miserable mess. Every week. I watched the other babies and toddlers happily bouncing on their caregivers' laps. They were quietly following along with the stories or enthusiastically pretending their fingers were the Itsy Bitsy Spider. I would sit in the circle of moms and kids, just wondering why I was torturing myself. Why did I keep going back, dragging our butts out of our cozy jammies to be there by 9 a.m? Often times, I was plopped on the rug, with not one, but two or three, kids with me. They would push on each other, each hoping to take up the most space on my abundant thighs. Seriously? What was I thinking?
In Japan, we tried Kindermusick. Have you ever been to a children's music class? It's full of those fun instruments you remember from your elementary school days, plus movement is highly encouraged. We played with sticks, triangles, drums, eggs that make noise when you shake them and colorful scarves that we tossed around for beauty's sake. It's quite a lovely way to introduce music and rhythm to babies and children. This music-loving-mama had high hopes for that class, too. I do not remember my kiddos doing any of the singing (even though it was all in English), and I definitely know they despised being told to hop and wave their bodies around the room to the music. Yet, I kept going back, paying for those classes, until I eventually had enough.
Dance classes, soccer teams, school Christmas programs. All of these events ended with the same result: my kids bucking the system. Doing their own thing. Not caring that they were not blending in with everyone else.
In the past, when I was younger and newer to motherhood, I encouraged them to join in all the fun that they could be slash should be having. Now, I just laugh and know how freeing it is that none of us really has to all!
Marshall's preschool class performed Christmas songs for all of the parents, and the kids were wearing reindeer ears and noses. Before I even walked into the room, I knew that my child would not be donning any of that festive gear, and he would not be singing a single note. He gave the most glorious non-performance ever!
So, what do we do when our babies won't participate in Mommy and Me classes? We care for a while, we try, and then we eventually learn to let them be who they want to be. Buck the system. Be brave. Be an individual. Be proud.
If you have a baby who loves those classes, I'm so happy for you! You will have the incredible experience that it's meant to be. If your kids fidget or moan or refuse to wear the costume, don't worry. It's okay to give up on the dream of what they or you should be gaining from those classes. Just go home and be free.
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