Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"playgroup" or "my social anxiety comes to a head"

A month or so ago we got a community ed booklet, and I thumbed through it hoping to find some sort of playgroup for Daughter. And what do you know, there was a Creative Playtime class just for 2 year-olds. I was a little perturbed about paying $32 so my kid can make some friends (I mean, can you imagine our parents paying actual money for us to have other kids to play with?!?), but there just aren't any toddlers within shouting distance of our house. My poor kid stands at our front fence and watches the 5 and 6 year-old girls across the street, trying to call out to them and interact, but of course they could care less about a toddler. And I wouldn't be real cool about having her play with kids that big anyway.

So we signed up for playgroup. It started this morning. It's a nice thing, this Creative Playtime. The 'teacher' is maybe in her mid-30s and has 4 kids of her own. It takes place in a preschool classroom so there are tons of toys, and there are several specific activities set out for the kids to play with (today it was painting, rubber stamps, and coloring). I guess 14 kids are signed up, though only 9 showed today. And 6 of them were boys. Poop. I wanted Daughter to start interacting with some little girls, so I hope more show up in the future.

I quickly discovered that most of the kids are older 2s, and several are actually turning 3 in a month or so. Daughter, you may recall, turned 2 last Thursday. So she was the smallest and youngest by far. I was also probably the youngest mom, and it seemed I was the only mom with only one child. Lots of kids were with their grandmas.Everyone else seemed to know each other because they've been participating in this Creative Playtime for 2 year-olds since their kids turned 2. Many have been through 2 sessions already.

I felt like the new kid in school. Didn't know where to put our coats. Didn't know the routine. I think I was the only one who had to leave the room to change a diaper. My child was the only one who couldn't drink from a dixie cup at snack time - thank goodness I thought to throw a sippy cup in the diaper bag (I was the only one with a big fat diaper bag, too). She was also the only one who didn't know exactly how to conduct herself during storytime. At first I was psyched because she ran right over and sat on the rug with the other kids, but that lasted about 30 seconds. She got up to play with toys, and when I tried to bring her back she started a hissy fit with the shrieking and the stiff body - you know. And the room was so, so quiet. Except for the shrieks. Luckily the teacher was freaking amazing and asked Daughter if she'd like to come sit next to her, which yes, she wanted to do.

The moms/grandmas were really nice. I don't mean to say that anyone made us (me) feel bad. They all kept commenting on how sweet and tiny and birdlike Daughter is, which is totally true - she is 36 inches tall but only 23 pounds, with these long, slender feet and hands. And I made it a point to mention that she is only just barely 2, so people would know why she wasn't going on the potty or drinking from an open cup. Which, I mean, why? I don't really know why I felt I had to do that. There is nothing wrong with my child. She is developing in a totally normal fashion and on a perfectly average timeline. I know I don't have to explain why she can't do all the things another child can do - especially a child who is one full year older than she is. And frankly, she can speak better than several of the children - the little girl sitting next to her asked for more juice and goldfish crackers and that girl's own mother couldn't even understand her. I couldn't either. Whereas Daughter can say many, many words perfectly. I'm sorry, re-reading that I guess I sound a bit braggy and snotty. I don't mean it that way. I'm just trying to process some thoughts and feelings here.

Anyway, Daughter seemed to have a blast. She talked about "playing with new friends" all morning. We're definitely going back. I just hope it isn't too much for her (me). Five kids were missing today and I am hoping some of those will be younger 2s also.

Our day to bring juice is May 23rd. Good heavens, I hope I bring the right kind.


Karen said...

Ooo! Plaaaygruuuuuup ... you brave woman, you! Glad Daughter had a great time!

Think of it this way: Daughter will learn all sorts of "big two year old" stuff from the other kids!

Scoutj said...

You my dear need to relax!! Can you spike your own travel mug with some Bailey's? Bring your knitting as it will surely be a conversation starter.

Give it a few times. And I bet before you know it, you won't feel like such the new kid. :)

HangerMom said...

So. Stressful! I hate that sort of situation, where I'm the only one who doesn't know the secret handshake and all that. But really it sounds like it went well. Of course a brand new two year old can't sit still for story time! My three year old can barely manage that. And karen is right about her learning new tricks this way. Like the open cup. Chances are if you hand her one with all the other kids using them, she'll pick it up in time just to be like them. My younger daughter has done all of that stuff sooner in an effort to imitate the older kid.

alisa said...

Kate-You did an awesome job!! Daughter wants to go back and in a few weeks she will be in the groove-just keep a positive attitude and its only a couple hours. If NY state is anything like New England-it'll take a couple weeks for people to warm up.

Pam said...

ugh! I hate dealing with new situations! For as outgoing of a person as I am stuff like this just toally freaks me out. I could totally live without ever having to be the new girl again:)

BTW, you don't sound braggy at all - you sound like a mom:)

Teresa said...

GOOD FOR YOU!! I do the compare thing too. I worry about things she isn't doing as well as other children, and then comfort myself about things she is doing that seem better. Lil bit used to be in a play group when she was an infant, but we moved out of the school district. Your school district might have a free program for toddlers, it is worth checking out.