My almost 3-yo is very athletic. Extremely so. Since she is adopted, it does not genetically come from her dad or from me, but we love to encourage her and facilitate her skill acquisition. This is the girl who was dribbling a soccer ball at 12 months. No joke. I don’t understand it and can’t emulate it, but I’m really proud! I seek ways to ensure she is getting enough activity each day, including interactions with others her own age.
Funny thing about classes for kids this young – all of them are parent and tot. Yup. I have to do the activities with her. Really, this is not surprising, but still embarrassing at times. I am tall, rubenesque, and uncoordinated. However, for the love of my child, I suck it up, arrange babysitting for the twins, and have gamely taken her to SportBall, dance, and now gymnastics.
I must admit to having had fun at most of the classes, and even feeling the burn on occasion. What gives me the most pleasure/fascination, however, is observing the other parents in the class. ‘Fess up time: I am an avid people-watcher. I create whole stories for them in my head and it comes with a not-so-small dose of judgement. It is something that God and I have an open dialogue about. Ha!
To amuse myself, I have been creating categories for my fellow parent/participants and have found that they transcend the activity or class [warning – judgmental descriptions upcoming – all meant as tongue-in-cheek]:
Raising Mom’s No-Fail Parent Categories
Not-So-Funny Funny Parent
This is the parent who has a smart comment for everything and thinks that everyone should be blessed by hearing about it. It is the worst when it is lame and groan-worthy. Usually I cope by averting my gaze or barely giving the tiniest of smiles as I quickly walk by. As an occasional nervous-talker myself, I am hyper-alert to this in myself and notice it quickly in others. I can be this person so easily, and if I am being totally honest, have been this parent on occasion this year. Yikes. I like to think that my humour is witty and erudite, however 😉
Totally Trendy Mom and Tot
This is the mom (less often the dad) who shows up in her designer Lululemon / Ivivva / Triple Flip outfit and has a mini-me dressed to match. Only the best will do. Often she is really nice, but intimidating in her toned beauty. I admit to being shy around and slightly scared of this mom. Luckily my little angel has no reservations about this (for which I am grateful and hope to continue to encourage – there are lessons to be learned for me here!).
My Kid Is Superior to Your Kid
This type of parent likes rarefied air. I know so, as they keep their nose so far in the air that it must be the superior air quality that is attracting them. There is little or no interaction with others, and the parent jockeys for the best spot, the most attention from the instructor and others around them be darned. They encourage their kids to be like this, too. These are the line “budgers” and shovers. These are the bullies. Their two year old child is destined for a professional career in this area and all the rest of us are just wasting theirs and our own time. They frustrate me only slightly less than the….
Whatever My Kid Wants To Do
This is the parent who lets their kid run wild, regardless of the words of the instructor or how it is impacting others. In our current gymnastics class, this is the kid who is hogging the trampoline or parallel bar to the exclusion of everyone else in the circuit. This is the kid who pushes others aside to get to the activity they want. This is the kid who is disrupting the activity with their unwillingness to follow instructions. This is the kid who is inciting the other kids to follow suit. Most often the parent (if they even acknowledge it is happening) will give a “whadda ya gonna do” half shrug and let the behaviour continue. This is the one category that drives me around the bend. As a type-A, oldest child, rule-follower – not to mention a TEACHER – to say I struggle with this parenting style is the understatement of the century. I often think I am hiding my fury, but am frequently caught out by my daughter saying “what’s wrong, Mom?” Nothing, nothing at all.
This is the parent who thinks that each thing that their precious child does is FANTASTIC and just the BEST EVER!!! Have you met one of these? In yesterday’s class, a dad was loudly gushing about how wonderful his son was on the gymnastic circuit after he had finally sunk a bean bag in the toddler-sized hoop after 11 tries. ELEVEN tries! He was looking around to see if any of the rest of us had seen this amazing feat and shouting “Great job, Michael! Look how talented you are!” at the top of his lungs. Poor kid. Imagine what it will sound like when he really does do something worth congratulating. My angel sunk hers in one toss, and, unfortunate kid, got a barely whispered “good job, babe, now go to the next station” from her stingy mom.
All-Round Nice Person
These are the kind, friendly, approachable and encouraging parents. A smile and edifying word for their own and your kid. Approachable and self-deprecating, they seek to make a genuine connection with others and just take the class and life in a relaxed manner. This is the parent who smiles at me and doesn’t give a second look at my slightly teething cookie-stained yoga pants and baggy hoodie. This parent gives my kid a smile when she sees her accomplish the task and does not bud in front or seek the spotlight for herself or her child. I love this parent. I want to be this parent!
Can any of you identify with me here? What categories have I forgotten? Before I get an in-box full of comments – please do see the humour and intentional overgeneralization! In my more self-aware moments, I know that I have been a member of all of these categories during one class or another. I like to hang out in the last one the best, however!
Next fall, when my oldest is three, I will eagerly send her off to do a class on her own (sniff!), while I recruit an adult partner (hello, Gran or Grandma!) to accompany me with the twins to parent/tot classes rounds 2 & 3! Just watch for me! I’ll be the one trying to play it cool while praying not to be judged and trying not to do the judging in return.