Featured Journal Motherhood

A Teachable Moment

Written by Chaaron

When I read the email, my fingers almost set the keyboard ablaze responding. A mommy-and-me creative movement class? Free trial? Get me on that list!

As a former dancer and dance teacher, I’ve been excited for the day that I’d get to introduce my kids to movement. My two-year old son is already a dancing machine, so I couldn’t see how this could go wrong. This was going to be just a “trial” in name only, I was going to sign the two of us up and we were going to be dancing the morning away every Saturday. It was going to be so much fun.

We were up and ready to go. Comfy movable clothes for both of us. Breakfast down the hatch. It felt like the first day of school.

Everything about the studio looked great. We dropped off our shoes in the cubbies, hung my purse and went to find our spot in the circle. Unsurprisingly, Dash was one of two boys, and it appeared that the other boy in class was the son of another dance instructor.

Things went about as well as you’d expect with a two-year old who has never done a mommy-and-me class. Both of us were figuring out how everything worked and I will admit that I hovered. I was very conscientious of personal space and wanted to make sure that we weren’t invading any of the other parent-child pairs. I had high expectations and Dash did pretty well. Some moments were better than others, but over all, things were going okay.

Then it was time for the cool down. Dash had about zero interest in quiet music, stretching and sitting down. He would have much prefered to continue to boogie. The instructor then said “parents, now as you lay on the floor, snuggle your child.” Uh, sure lady. I gave it a go, and as expected, I got a lot of “no mommy, want to get up.” Me too, kid, me too.

This apparently appeared like the perfect time for the mother next to me to use us as a teachable moment for her child. She stage whispered (her volume control could use some work) “do you see that terrible boy over there, that’s what you look like when you throw a tantrum. You don’t want to look terrible like he does.”

HOLD ON JUST A SECOND. I CAN HEAR YOU.

I said nothing. Didn’t even look at her. Heat creeped up my cheeks. Tears stung my eyes. I knew that Dash wanted to be let go, but I just held him tighter. As soon as the music ended, I gave him a big smile, grabbed his little hand and got out of the room as fast as we could. I didn’t make eye contact with the registration table, grabbed our shoes and ran out the door.

I like to think that I’m pretty realistic about my kids’ behavior. When they are being terrible, I’m usually the first to admit it. He wasn’t throwing a tantrum, he just wasn’t digging the end of fun. And he wasn’t interested in hugging me at that very moment.

Later that afternoon, I called my mom (and later emailed my cousin) and let the tears flow. Was I a terrible mom? Was Dash terrible and I didn’t realize it? He couldn’t possibly be terrible. He’s the best. Why would anyone talk about him that way? And loud enough that I could hear? With true grandmother bias, she assured me that Dash is fantastic and that woman was a jerk. Yeah, a total jerk.

On our drive home from class, I listened to Dash talk about how he wanted to continue jumping like a frog and dancing fast. “More dancing, Mommy.”

So, when we got home, I gave him what he was looking for. Loud music, lots of room to move and more dancing.

And then I signed us up for Saturday morning swim lessons. We’ve got the dance thing under control at our house for now.

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About the author

Chaaron

Chaaron is a Nebraska native who lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband, RP, her son, Dash and her daughter, Pippa. By day, she’s a program manager with a public charity in DC and by night, she is happily occupied with living room dance parties and dodging errant duplo pieces. She’s terrible at updating her blog, but you can find her little slice of the internet at senseandnonsenseblog.com.

8 Comments

  • This happened to ME. It wasn’t dance class. It was at a little playground area. My boy was being pretty good – and even sharing. But I heard a grandma tell her little granddaughter on the way out, “We share much better than that little boy.”
    UGH.

  • This woman is the reason mom’s feel so inadequate! And I believe that little girl will probably grow into a woman who believes the only way to find her strengths is to compare herself to others. That’s unfortunate! You are a great human so I would guess you’re a damn good mama. And yes, damn was necessary there.

    • One good thing that came out of that experience is that I’ll be a lot more sensitive to comparing my children to others. And I think you’re a great human and a damn good mama too!

  • I’m utterly speechless. Dash is two and will do what Dash wants to do and that’s ok. In fact that’s great, I love his strong-willed nature. It will serve him well!

  • That is totally ridiculous that people have to act like that. I have a daycare and every child is special in his or her own way, although sometimes we may not agree with the way that some people raise their children there is absolutely no need for such rude comments. And….kids are kids! Some days are better than others!! We all have bad days, even little kids, big kids, adults… Good grief, he is only two, he is aloud to have fun in a class that’s meant for excercise!!!

    • One of my friends who has taught more mommy-and-me classes than she’d care to count reminded me that the reason that mommy is in the room is because these kids are too young to be in class by themselves. I think it’s easy to be hypercritical when your child is behaving, but unfortunately you’ll soon find out that your child is also capable of disruptive. Two year olds will be two year olds!