Today Cooper had soccer. Yes, that’s right–not even out of his Thirsties and only turning two next week and he’s in a soccertotclass called Soccer Tots for children ages 18 months to three years. It’s a little ridiculous, I’m the first to admit it. But like many parents these days, unlike my own infant, toddler and childhood, I feel obligated to somehow expose my children to different experiences in the form of baby classes at a very young age.

I’m not sure if baby classes are more for the parents or the kids.  Entertainment? Education? Or to socialize our baby with like-sized peers, much like a group of puppies at the dog park. But they’re everywhere and I find that I almost feel guilty if I’m the one mother in our Mommy Group who doesn’t have her kids signed up for at least one activity–EACH.

When our first daughter Lauren was one, we took her to music class. We sat in a circle with about a dozen other moms, dads and toddlers and sang and clapped and played with puppets. Or rather, I sang and clapped and played with puppets while Lauren, who was one of the only children who had no interest in sitting in her mommy’s lap and following along, poked around the room, got into mischief and ran around. When she took a toddler art class however, she was much more focused, not wanting to smear the paint around like the other children but making deliberate strokes and shapes with her paintbrush.

Our second daughter Kate, being the middle child, had to miss out on many of the play groups and classes. Her older sister Lauren was only in preschool a few hours a week so it was the three of us almost all of the time. I couldn’t very well bring an over-active and temperamental three-year old with me while I participated in a class with Kate. I comforted myself with the thought that Lauren was still an only child at Kate’s age and didn’t have the constant companionship of a sibling to stimulate her mentally and physically. I wonder if Kate would agree? It wasn’t until she was three that Kate finally got to take a few classes of her own, ballet and then gymnastics.

Cooper is a full three years younger than Kate, which I have to admit, has made taking him to his own baby classes slightly easier. Both girls are in school long enough for me to swing it–but despite that fact, maybe because I’m “over it” with my third child or because frankly, I’d rather take him to the daycare at the YMCA so that I can get on the treadmill for a bit (and do some writing in the lounge), than take him to a music class that I would probably end up chasing him around anyway. But he is doing soccer on Saturdays and I let his Daddy take him and I happily spend a much needed couple of hours without him under foot at home. The soccer coach wisely told all of the parents to have “Zero Expectations” for their children. The only goal is to run around and have fun. After the one soccer class I have taken him to, I can tell you it’s advice worth remembering! But nonetheless, it’s fun watching his chubby cloth-diapered booty run around.

Do you take your baby or toddler to classes and activities? What are your experiences like? Do you have a “lap-sitter” or a “runner?”

 

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