One of the great things available for kids where we live is the MSU Community Music School. It’s run by the MSU Music Department and they have classes for people of all ages and abilities.
Among their many programs are the ones for infants and toddlers, and pre-schoolers. It’s all about teaching the kids to associate movement with sound. The kids get to use sticks, toy microphones, bean bags, scarves, and even get a chance to use xylophones and other musical instruments. Kids can participate as little or as much as they like. There is no pressure. It’s about fun (as it should be for kids that young). Most kids start out not doing a whole lot and by the end of the semester are much more excited and involved. It’s a blast to watch the kids develop and transform, each in their own way.
I took our son Henry for music classes when he was a toddler and pre-school aged. He loved it for the two years we did it. I even met some parents there who came to be good friends to my wife and me.
Our daughter Meredith, who is now three and a half, has seemingly enjoyed the classes based on her enthusiasm for wanting to go. “I wanna go to music class!” she exclaims. And I say, “great” and then we get in the car and drive. And then we park the car and she gets out and runs to the entrance, hits the blue handicapped button to open the glass doors, and then walks fast down the hall toward the classroom, and then we sit in a circle with the rest of the kids and their parents and then, like we’ve done for the last year and a half, I participate far more than Meredith does.
Oh, Meredith knows exactly what she’s supposed to do. She just doesn’t do it. She doesn’t dance; I’m forced to carry her. She doesn’t do anything with the sticks or other items. Sometimes she even tries to stop me while I try to be a good participant. Or she’ll make a suggestion for doing something with say the beanbag (putting it on her foot or over her eye) while we sing and the teacher tells her it’s a great idea and then commences to lead the class in doing it, but then Meredith simply sits and watches the class.
At first I thought this was a phase she would pass through, that she would eventually participate at least half the time. But that has not happened for three semesters now. So I’m not taking her anymore. The class is for pre-schoolers. Not adults (though adult participation is necessary). If I’m going to do the majority of participating in a music class I might as well learn an instrument.
I think it’s important to recognize when your child is just not into something. After three semesters of half-assed/non-participation, I think it’s safe to say my daughter is simply not into the class and it’s time to move onto something else.
(Also, the mother and good friend of ours whose son is the same age as Meredith is no longer enrolling her son in the classes either. We had made sure these past few years to sign our children up for the same classes. So the social aspect is also not there. Socialize with the other mothers, you say? Ah-hahaha, there’s a post or two about being the only man in what is assumed to be a mothers’ space. 🙂 Some other time I’ll write about that.)
What that something else will be for Meredith, I’m not sure. Maybe some sports like soccer or gymnastics. We’ll see.
I can say for sure that it will most definitely NOT be swimming lessons. I tried that last month. It was an unmitigated disaster with lots of kicking, screaming, crying, and shouts of “I scared of the water!” at the pool, all in front of the other kids and parents, and the very nice instructor. Thankfully, the YMCA credited us the amount for the class so we can apply it to something else later on.
There is no predicting what a child will like or want to do. Factor in that our daughter is three and is every day doing something that is the very embodiment of the word “oppositional” and you have a recipe for absolute unpredictability.
Which I suppose is no different than what should be expected in the ultra-marathon that is parenthood.