New Mama Musings

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

For the Kids

This morning Henry and I attended the first session of the "Conservatory Tots" music class at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. He was the only boy and the oldest of the three babies, and he flirted shamelessly with Mason while snubbing poor chubby Kennedy. He got to strum a guitar, rattle some shakers, bang on a drum and play peek-a-boo with a sheer play cloth, all accompanied by Miss Karen's singing.

I think he thoroughly enjoyed himself. Because that's what things like this are all about, right? The child enjoying himself?

That's what I thought, but apparently this is not a truth universally acknowledged.

Henry and I arrived at the conservatory about twenty minutes early and as we waited outside the classroom we could hear a child crying hysterically in the session before ours. The mother finally brought the little boy -- who looked to be about two years old -- out of the room, and while he whimpered, "Wanna go home," she said, "We can't go home until you say you're sorry to Miss Karen. You were very rude and bad to cry and disrupt her class."

Then she kept trying to entice him to go back in: "Don't you want to bang the drum? We need to say goodbye to the other kids! Let's go back in and watch!"

I felt so bad for that little boy. He was obviously afraid. Honestly, the drum was pretty loud and the teacher is very in-your-face, so I don't blame him. I was kind of surprised Henry was okay with it.

Way to shame your child and teach him that what others think is more important than how he feels.

I don't have all the answers, but if I were that mama I would have picked my child up and stood in the corner of the classroom, so he could watch everything from a distance (and to be fair, maybe she tried this). Then, if he were still upset after a few minutes, I would take him out of the room and validate his feelings: "It's pretty noisy in there, isn't it?"

And then over the course of the next week I would try to role-play with him about the class and work through his feelings. I would make arrangements for him to arrive early and look at the instruments by himself at his own pace before the other kids got there. And after all that, if he were still freaked out, I would drop it.

I really hope this little boy isn't made to attend next week if he's still afraid. And I really hope the mom doesn't shame him again, because I may have to bite my tongue until it bleeds.


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