As parents, life is full of little “holy crap” moments. They can range from the good like “holy crap, did you see him take his first steps?!” to the bad like “holy crap, what did you just put in your mouth?” to the literal like “holy crap, what did this kid eat?” Occasionally, there is the holiest of craps. The “holy crap, what have I done?” The one that resonates deeply as you evaluate your decisions made along the way and the consequences that have now come to light.
I try to be aware of what my children may lack from not being in daycare, especially the social interaction with kids their own age. I weigh that against the lack of a hefty bill and cesspool of germs. So to fill the gap, I aim to take my tiny overlords to parks and kids museums, places where they learn to share, wait to for their turn, and be kind to others.
But with our kids museum membership soon coming to an end, I have been looking for new things things to refresh our weekly routine that has been fairly unchanging for the past year. Bonus points if it’s free. Congratulations, library storytime. You fit the bill.
Our first trip to the library first started with “holy crap, we are 30 minutes late,” followed by “holy crap, is that a yellow jacket on my stroller?” (true story). But the biggest “holy crap” was involving my toddler’s fear of joining the group. The kid clung to me from the moment we set foot in the door and did not release his tiny death grip until the moment we left the room. This would be with the exception of the 20 seconds it took me to grab an empty formula cup from the diaper bag and capture our winged devil spawn friend in order to run it outside, thereby being crowned the insect whisperer, but I digress.
I was not sure where I went wrong. He was fine at all our other outings. I distinctly remember my husband pointing out another child clinging to his mother at the kid’s museum while our child was happily totting about with no excessive concern for stranger danger. It wrongly pumped me up thinking there was something I was doing something right, and even worse, doing something better than someone else.
But that day at the library with a chorus of kids chanting the words to “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons,” I ate my slice of humble pie with my one free hand as the other was carrying my terrified two year old. I apologized to the librarian for getting the time wrong and pushed out my baby in the stroller with my toddler on my hip, determined to show up the next week, on time, yellow jacket free, with a toddler who would conquer his fears.
The next storytime started off with a bang as he wailed during the first song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” as I apologized while trying to make light of the irony of the song. But soon after, I was able to let him down as he cautiously approached the front of the room. Then the relief of him being quicker to join the group was soon overwhelmed with my next shortcoming. He could not sit still as the other children attentively sat in a circle listening to the story. He was disruptive saying his new favorite question “What was that?!”
Holy crap. I had missed another important part of the equation. I had not allowed my child the opportunity to be in a structured environment – to sit, to listen, to focus. I felt like I had shortchanged him yet again in keeping him home and out of daycare. I had visions of getting a phone call his first week of school with an exhausted teacher telling me he would not stop dancing on the tables, running up to the window, or being disruptive in the middle of class.
Maybe I could get this kid into transcendental meditation, sitting in one spot, tiny legs crossed, chanting “om” and saying profound things like “are we all around the mulberry bush or is it the mulberry bush around us?” Or I could just keep bringing him back to storytime as long as they will have us. Practice makes perfect, right? One can only hope.