Tales From The (Mother) Hood

by Courtney Sirotin on September 6, 2012

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When I was in elementary school and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” was popular, my mom always got really hung up on the line, “word to your mother.” She said it was insulting to mothers and akin to a swear. This, coming from the same woman who taught us to say, “Beaver dam!” anytime we wanted to say, “Damn!” I didn’t understand what was so offensive about “word to your mother” back then, and I still don’t now. In fact, I just asked Jay if he thinks “word” is supposed to be a placeholder for a swear, which is the only way the line could be offensive, but he said, “Absolutely not,” so I stand by my position that it’s a perfectly harmless lyrical phrase.

But I’m not here to talk about Vanilla Ice. At least, not today (though there is plenty to be said on the matter). Instead, I’d rather share some thoughts about this and that, starting with this:

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Of note in the above image is the name tag on Dylan’s back. As you know, Dylan attends Gymboree classes. Also available at the Gymboree near us is a music class. I signed Dylan up for the music class today but after he’d arrived and was ushered to the music room adjacent to the gym, he realized he wasn’t going to be able to play on the gym equipment and threw a fit. When I say, “threw a fit,” I mean that literally. We stayed for five long minutes while the teacher started class and the other kids began enthusiastically participating. I thought once things got going Dylan would calm down and join in, but he did not, so we had to leave because he was disrupting the class.

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Back in the car with a very unhappy child I had to decide what to do next. In a half hour Gymboree was going to have “Open Play” time where Dylan would be able to play in the main gym like he wanted (which I was going to let him do after music class anyway…though he didn’t understand this), but I didn’t want to just sit in the car for a half hour and then go back in and have him think he’d “won” and his tantrum was successful. On the other hand, I didn’t want to just drive home. I really did want him to have some fun, but it was getting complicated.

I ended up driving around aimlessly while I tried to decide what to do. As I was driving I happened upon a quaint little playground down a country road.

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I decided it was the perfect activity given the circumstances. Dylan was thrilled to get out of the car and start playing, and enough time had passed since his meltdown that I don’t think it seemed like a reward for his tantrum. The weather was warm but also breezy and the playground was nicely shaded. We took full advantage of having the park to ourselves; even I was sliding and hanging from the monkey bars.

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But here’s the thing…I started having these thoughts that I sometimes get at times like these where I start to doubt and second guess myself. I started wondering, “Why was Dylan the only kid that didn’t want to be at the music class?” And, “Is it bad that he’s not playing with other kids right now? He needs socializing.” And, “Why are we the only ones at this park? Where are all the other kids? Why are we so different?” Dylan never wants to be a part of the group at any of the classes we attend together and sometimes I start wondering if there is something wrong with him.

Except, neither do I. And, neither does Jason. The honest truth is that when Dylan was too upset to stay in the music class I was actually a little relieved. I take him to all these classes because I want him to have as many fun and social experiences as he can, but I think both of us, on a really basic level, have strong preferences towards autonomy. We’d both rather lie at the foot of a slide and stare at the sky overhead than shake two maracas in music class.

For me, the challenge in this is twofold. On the one hand, I would like Dylan to embrace social experiences more than I do, because I know that I miss out on some fun because of my resistance to group activities and structured classes. On the other hand, I want him to explore his authentic self and grow into a free-thinking, independent leader. Jason is the personification of a leader and I imagine Dylan will take after his dad, especially since he already moves to the beat of his own drum (music class not withstanding).

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It is very clear to me that I will need to make an effort to bridge these two worlds for Dylan. I will need to be careful not to let him retreat too deeply into private worlds on deserted playgrounds. I will need to continue to encourage him to engage in classes and group activities even if it’s a bit of a struggle for us both because his life will be easier if he has the ability to engage in a group (not saying I don’t, just that it doesn’t always come naturally). That said, you can bet we’ll be sneaking away on occasion and ditching classes when the breeze is out and the sun is shining. We all need space to grow and sometimes groups and classes can just be maddening with their confinement.

And with that, I bid you adieu.

Word to your mother.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

DONNA CUSHING September 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Word to my daughter!
You are being rebellious today!
As I sit at school almost ready to leave on Friday, and am thinking about your post, an idea comes to mind. Try this. Find a friend you are comfortable with who has a child. Once a week, for a short period to start, maybe 30 minutes then build up, you take her child to your house for a bit of time, and on another day that week she takes Dylan to her house for a little time. Just for fun, and each of you gets some alone time. Now my experience has been that children behave a little differently when their mom’s aren’t around . Not better or worse, just differently. Dylan knows what your reactions will be as well as you know his. It may just put a new spin on things.

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KELLY September 10, 2012 at 2:34 am

Haha I totally forgot about “word to your mother.” I do however still yell “Beaver Dam!” purely out of habit. Glad you had fun at the park. He looks so darn cute in those pictures!!!

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CAROL GLOSKI October 6, 2012 at 1:15 am

This time with Dylan won’t last forever so don’t feel guilty about spending time with him doing his favorite things!! You will be surprised when he, all of a sudden, has a great time with some friends he has met. He plays nicely with his cousins so I wouldn’t worry too much yet!

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