Last night we trooped over to our Parks & Rec community center for our first Movement Exploration class.
“Movement Exploration provides parents and their children the opportunity to explore their world, meet new friends, and develop motor skills in a colorful and playful environment through songs, creative play, social time, and an occasional simple arts and crafts project. Class for 10-18 MONTHS is designed for wobbly walkers. Balance and motor skills are developed.”
Granted, the muppets aren’t quite “wobbly walkers.” Search almost is – he’ll shakily stand alone (for soundtracking purposes, I currently have “Farmer in the Dell” stuck in my head – “the cheese stands alone…”) and even take a basic half step. But as soon as he realizes he’s unsupported, he immediately and cautiously lowers himself right back down to the floor.
Destroy has figured out how to pull himself up to a standing position, but hasn’t quite mastered sitting back down. Occasionally, he’ll get tired and turn to look for Dad or me with a look of horrified concern. “Get me down!”
But I thought the class would be fun; I had reminiscent thoughts of Gymboree. (Which, incidentally, was my first job – I was a proud Gymbo the Clown. Although, now that I think about it, I may have been hired for the position simply because I fit in the costume.) Besides, the socialization with other toddlers, open kid-safe spaces and bright primary colored toys would be good encouragement and stimulation.
There are six little ones in our class, five of them are 12 months and one is 15 months. (Technically that means our guys are three months behind their peers, but we’ve chosen to ignore that.) When we got into the room, all the Explorers got nametags stickered on their back (it is a bad idea to put nametags on the front of curious kids) and we plopped them down onto the blue foam mat.
Search eyed us warily and marched off the mat onto the hardwood gym floor. True to form, this kid is interested in the opposite direction. He found a little table with blocks, so he pulled himself right up and started gnawing away.
Destroy surprised me. He took off crawling toward the teacher and some of the other kids (who were actually on the soft mat provided), his eyes wide with intrigue. But just as sudden as he’d taken off, he stopped. He looked around, scrunched up his little face and began to wail. Perhaps he overestimated his spirit of adventure. We remedied this malcontent with a couple trips down the slide. Search continued chewing on blocks.
For the structured portion of class, we began with a song to learn all the little one’s names. I have no idea what they are. We sang songs like the ABCs and Itsy Bitsy Spider with baby-sized tambourines. The muppets were thrilled; they love music – the louder and more obnoxious, the better.
No sooner had we begun singing and banging than it was time to put away the noisemakers and bring out the parachute. THE PARACHUTE! Do you remember this fabulous piece of childhood play classes? I do. So did all of the other parents. We were all far more excited about this than our progeny, who weren’t that amused by its difficulty to eat. “Just wait!” we all assured them. “This is going to be awesome!”
We made ripples with the cloth. We pointed out colors. “Where is the blue patch? Are you sitting on the green piece?” Search and Destroy stared at us. The little girl in the class (there is only one) got up and trucked it across the room, her father trailing behind her, cajoling her back to THE PARACHUTE.
“It’s time for a ride!” sang our teacher. We all excitedly sat our explorers in the center, stood back and began to circle them, swirling them around. One kid immediately fell over. He didn’t cry, but he didn’t look terribly thrilled with this particular adventure either. Search grabbed ahold of Destroy and clutched his brother with a death grip until the twirling stopped. The parents were all smiling and laughing. No one was too concerned with the next generation’s lack of enthusiasm – they just had not yet realized the true awesomeness of THE PARACHUTE.
We played a few more games with the wondrous colored cloth, including creating an air bubble and bouncing some textured nubby balls into the air. The kids were more interested in chasing after the balls and stealing them from each other than stomping across an artificial inflated dome.
Blocks were next: giant Legos and papered bricks. I know you will be shocked to hear that Search spent several minutes tasting the bricks. He was easily distracted when the teacher started stacking the blocks. Both muppets are *excellent* at the Godzilla game. They can take down those towers like no tomorrow.
By the time we finished with blocks, our first class was ready to wrap-up with the goodbye song. And it was none too soon. Muppet meltdown was imminent. The boys were not thrilled with the “clean up in the classroom” activity portion – we discovered Destroy stealthily clutching two giant yellow Lego blocks, completely unwilling to let them go. Poor children – they obviously are deprived with no toys of their own to play with…
Although we started off a little unsure about this whole experience, I think we’re looking forward to next week’s exploration in movement adventures. If nothing else, there are some great blocks to chew on.