Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Toddler Fun

Kenly and I started a Toddler Fun class at the YMCA a few weeks ago. It's an hour of singing, dancing, parachute play, and toddler interaction. Well, that's the class in theory. Don't get me wrong...I'm not at all slamming the class. It is everything I've been looking for during the last year. I've even made a friend or two, so that's even icing on the cake. But imagine the pandemonium that ensues when you put 18 toddlers in a room and try to lead structured play. One child walks around with his finger up his nose. Another child tries to plan a great escape out the door to the classroom. Two children fight over a yellow ball even though there are 6 other yellow balls exactly like it in the room. Shanti, our instructor, is amazing. She's patient and gentle--two excellent qualities for dealing with toddlers. I've learned new songs and signs just by paying attention even when Kenly isn't. I spend a good deal of each class trying to teach Kenly to share and trying to keep Kenly from climbing on the window stoops or from stealing toys from one of the strollers/diaper bags in the room. Every Tuesday is a new adventure.

My favorite part of the class is watching the parents. All of us act a fool to try and draw our children into the activity of the moment. Imagine 18 moms/dads on hand and knee barking like dogs or mooing like cows. We're all in boat position rowing as we belt out "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," and what are our children doing? What ever they dang well please. Sometimes I wonder if they even know we're in the room. They do what toddles do best--explore every nook and cranny. Look up. Look down. Pick at lint on the carpet. Roll on the floor. Climb any stationary object. The chaos is liberating. Every adult should take a lesson from the toddlers. Stop trying to force everything. Stop trying to plan every moment. Stop and look around. You'll never know what you might discover.

Kenly loves "free ball" time. Shanti puts out about 25 slo-mo balls and the kicking, bouncing, snatching fest that occurs is the highlight of this girl's day. She's learning to share, and she can pick a yellow ball out of the crowd. She's even starting to understand the concept of helping clean up.
Kenly's favorite perch when she needs to check out for awhile is this window. The light must help her detox when she's overstimulated.
This is not a great picture, but Kenly loves the scarves too. Can you find Benny Bunny in this picture? He's never far away these days.
But, bubbles are the hit of the day for every kid in the room. I find it kind of funny that Shanti plays "Tiny Bubbles" during bubble time. Tiny bubbles in the wine. Make me feel happy. Make me feel fine are slightly odd lyrics for toddlers, but hey, it works. Perhaps the song is more for the parents.

Each class ends with a stamp on the hand. Oh the power of a stamp. Kenly gets and line every time.

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