This morning, I drove for our second adventure over to the local Mommy and Me. I was excited for Jack to be around other children again and to play, run around, sing songs, and just enjoy himself. We had a fabulous time with the small group last week and I was anxious for Jack to play with more kids and sing songs.
As we walked in the door, I felt like I walked in on a private conversation. It was like every head turned to watch me walk in the door and whatever they were talking about was never mentioned again. I took Jack’s coat and hat off and sat in the semi-circle waiting to begin the songs. I introduced myself and Jack to the Moms seated next to us and participated in the sing along. All was great up until the “free play” portion.
When free play began, the children aged from 12 months through 4 years ran to all of the toys. There is a balance beam, tubes, balls, a hoop, a slide and more.
Jack went to chase after a ball that he had bounced and one 3 year old decided that he wanted it and pushed Jack face forward to the floor. I said to the little boy, “You shouldn’t push people, and you need to be more careful because he is just a toddler and he is smaller than you.” His mother then came over, grabbed his hand and said, “Come on, usually there aren’t BABIES here, so you can’t play like we usually do.” The emphasis on “babies” was a total slap in the face. It was her way of saying “You are not welcome here.” I comforted Jack and ignored her. She can’t help that she is ignorant and unkind.
So, we left the ball and decided to play on the slide. We patiently waited in line for our turn, and once it was our turn, I started helping Jack with stepping up the steps of the slide. The moderator’s son (who had been obnoxious for most of the session) started walking up the slide and told Jack to get off his slide as his mother looked on. I told him that it was Jack’s turn and that he could have a turn if he waited in line. He then started trying to push Jack off of the steps of the slide. That was it for me. I picked Jack up, put on his coat and we left.
Yes, as a Stay-at-home-mom, life can often times be lonely and you can miss speaking to another adult about something other than diapers, toys, or sippy cups, but that was not necessarily my driving factor for bringing Jack to Mommy and Me. Even though most of his play is parallel play, it is still important for him to socialize and be around other adults and children.
Believe me, I am not claiming to be the perfect Mom or that I have all of the answers because I don’t, but haven’t any of these Moms ever heard the word NO? It’s a simple word that needs to be used to set boundaries for children, and no one has ever died that I am aware of from hearing “No.” Why wouldn’t any of these Moms ever say “No, don’t do that” or “We don’t hit each other” or “That little boy was playing with that. You can ask him for a turn?”
I consider myself to be very fortunate to be a mother, and one thing I will never understand is the mothers who make it out to be such an exclusive club. Like they take ownership of whatever activity that we are at. “Oh, you are new to Mommy and Me/Story Time? My kid practically was birthed on the floor here at whatever-activity. Therefore, you just play by our rules.” Granted, I have not ever heard those words verbatim, but it does seem to come across that way whenever I take Jack to an organized activity.
If it were my son misbehaving or being unkind to another child, I would totally expect another mother to say something to him about the behavior if I did not see what had happened. Am I alone in this?
And no, I am not trying to raise my son in a bubble where he doesn’t get hurt and everything is always sunshine and butterflies. I expect him to have battle wounds. I expect him to not always get his way. I expect the village that it takes to raise a child to come together and love and care for all of the children, not to shun them for being new.
Maybe it would be better for Jack to have more socialization or to be able to participate in social outings, but you won’t catch me at this Mommy and Me again.