Victory (any!) is sweet

3 Mar

As a stay-at-home mom living in a new city, I have to be especially proactive about seeking out opportunities for z-baby to interact with other children and get myself out of the house. Thankfully we have an awesome local blog, Southern Mamas, that publishes kid-friendly activities coming up each week. I’m an introvert anyway, and with the postpartum depression (even its remnants) I sometimes have to force myself out of the house and into social settings. So we do story time at the library every week and we try to make it out to the wildlife center for a toddler program. I also joined a mom’s club that has various meet-ups and play dates throughout the month.

I took z-baby to his first play group several months ago, and in all honesty, I still haven’t fully recovered. I went in all naive and hopeful, expecting him to play alongside the other kids while I would form life-long friendships with the other mothers. Eeeerrrrch! Could you hear that record screeching to a halt? That was so not what happened. Once he warmed up and I could pry him off my leg, he stood in one spot for a long time and watched the other kids play. Then he must have decided he like them soooo much that he needed to hug them. All of them. Over and over again. He was having a ball hugging them, taking them down like a linebacker, and pinning them to the ground… with a huge grin on his face the whole time. I pulled him off sobbing babies, toddlers, and kindergartners more times than I could count. At some point the bigger kids banded together and started half-chanting, half-yelling at him, “No more hugs! No more hugs!” I was so not prepared for this.

Then the throwing started. As if he needed to demonstrate his awesome arm to all the other kids. Dolls, legos, balls, trains… you name it, it went flying. The other kids took shelter in the tent. You could still hear the chanting coming from within, with a few sniffling outliers scattered across the room. Z-baby wanted in. Bad. And they wouldn’t let him. So he did the only thing a brawny little 1-year old could do. He pulled and pulled until the top of the tent bent down to the ground and he could climb in through the hole at the top. Exasperated kids evacuated. OK, 1) how did he even know there was a hole in the top in the first place? and 2) how is it that my kid was that kid???

By this point I was a sweaty, shaky, stunned mess. I mumbled something to the other moms and I grabbed our stuff and staggered out the door. I waited until I got down the street a ways and then I lost it, sobbing like one of the snotty-nosed babies z-baby had left in his wake. I got home and told sig-o what had happened, concluding with, “Our kid was the bad kid!” (which I’m forbidden to say, by the way). He tried to calm me down and as we talked I saw a blur of fur and giggles fly by us. Z-baby was hugging our big dog, holding on to her around the neck and by the collar as the dog ran around the house trying to shake him off. Which she couldn’t. And it dawned on me why (or at least partially why) he’s so rough. The dog is his only other playmate.

This was like six months ago. It literally took me that much time to get up the nerve to go back to this play group. On the way to the group this morning, I had a little talk with z-baby. Which I knew was futile, but I didn’t know what else to do. We covered the basics — no hitting, kicking, hugging, spitting, or biting (the newest craze). I dreaded going in. I just knew we had a reputation already. But they barely remembered us. It took him longer to warm up this time and then after some coaxing, he actually played like a good little boy. I was so proud of him! And then it happened. A mom came in with her little girl and a giant pink ball. I think it’s an understatement to say that z-baby is ball crazy. He practically popped out was pulled out and asked for a ball. It was his first word. He both threw and kicked before he could walk. People stop us all the time at the park in amazement. So when he saw this ball, I knew it was all over. He managed to wait until no one was using it and then grabbed it. He kicked it over the moms’ heads twice. And then he was ready to go… and take the ball with him. We were headed towards tantrum territory so I decided we should call it a day and leave. It took some quick maneuvering and let’s face it, I ended up having to carry him out while he looked back at everyone in the room and whimpered, “Bye ball… Bye ball… Bye ball.” And I felt awful. Again.

But it was an improvement. And we did last for almost an hour. And there was no chanting. Now I’d call that a victory.

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