I have never been much of a joiner.  Group activities make me nervous. When I am nervous things typically do not go well: I talk too loud and too much, I sweat through my shirt, one time I peed my pants in Cardio Kickboxing I just kind of lose control of myself.

When Emma was younger I did all the obligatory “new mom” activities – sweating and babbling my way through Gymboree and Makin’ Music.  Every time, I questioned my choice of outfit (fashion is NOT my passion), and Emma’s choice of outfit (which typically included wings or a tiara).  I dreaded joining the circle of chatty women in designer skinny jeans and ballet flats.  I remember one woman in particular who wore a Burberry scarf to match her Burberry umbrella.  The only berry I wear is smashed up blueberries, and I don’t even own an umbrella.   

Emma, who from birth has been a pain in the ass capricious in nature, didn’t help matters with her unpredictable behavior.  One week she would scamper underneath the rainbow colored parachute with squeals of delight; the next week she would do the Dead Man’s Float in the ball pit with no intention of moving. 

Being a rule-following, people-pleasing kind of gal, to me this public display of defiance was catastrophic.  I would look at the other children in the circle mechanically shaking their maracas and wonder what I was doing wrong.  Why did my child find pulling Bible readings off the bulletin board so much more entertaining?   But she could smell my fear.  The harder I would try to coerce her back to the group, the more likely she was to start flinging tambourines like Frisbees. 

With Emma in school, I thought my Joiner Days were over.  Phoebe does not need those activities! She has Emma for stimulation and social interaction!  Sadly, I soon realized that unless shrieking and hair-pulling pass as social interaction, I had better start fishing around my closet for my ballet flats….or at least my good flip-flops.

So I signed up for Story Hour.  I told myself to suck it up, that I needed to do this for Phoebe. Baby Phoebe, who gets the shaft with her hand-me-down clothes and mismatched socks…who eats a ½ pound of white American lunch while riding in the shopping cart at Wegman’s…who gets woken up from her nap to meet the school bus…it’s her turn, damnit.  Plus, Phoebe is so predictable, so easy – this would be different.

Or so I thought.

I was determined to approach ”joining” with a new, carefree attitude.  Maybe too carefree, considering we showed up to the library on Tuesday to learn that Story Hour was actually on WEDNESDAY.  No worries, I thought!  Better a day early than late, right?  We can go to Starbucks roll with the punches.  

The following day, as we settled into the circle, Phoebe seemed on the fence about the whole situation.  Maybe it was the fact that the librarian took 10 minutes to take attendance, or because the carpet squares smelled like cat piss.  I can’t be sure.  But she was definitely losing patience, as evidenced by her screaming “I WANT TO GO HOME!”  at the top of her lungs.

However, she says the same thing while standing in her own driveway, so I took it with a grain of salt. 

We got started with a song that involved a lot of clapping.  Phoebe loves clapping.  On holidays, her seventeen older cousins clap and cheer when she opens a gift, enters a room, or poops her pants.  So when the group erupted in applause, Phoebe assumed it was for her.  She did a dance in the middle of the circle, gave out a few high-fives, and won points for modesty by announcing, “Look at ME! I so CUTE!”The librarian invited the children to “come sit closer,” which Phoebe interpreted as  “Come here and wedge yourself between my inner thighs.” 

Then there was the felt board activity, in which the children were asked to stick a cow cutout onto the board.  Watching Phoebe, I could see that, despite repeated attempts, her cow was not sticking perhaps because the felt board was made during the Carter administration.  She began to use a bit more force: “SLAP!” Down fell the cow. Her lips pursed, she tried again: “SLAP!”  Again, no stick.  Her eyebrows started to furrow.  I got up to assist, but it was too late.  I proceeded to watch her give that cow one final heave-ho, and in the process, KNOCK OVER THE ENTIRE BOARD.

The librarian was a little thrown off by this.  Apparently Phoebe had not read Rule #10, Respect Library Materials, on the Story Hour Etiquette checklist.   Probably because when the paper was handed out, she crumbled it into a ball and shoved it in her mouth like a donut.

Then there was the Final Activity:  Make a spotted cow, placing the eye stickers and dot stickers in the appropriate places.

Close enough.

But you know what? While Project Be A Joiner may not have been a raging success, I didn’t freak out.  Ok, the trashing of the felt board, I freaked out a little about that.  But overall, I recognized that even the fallen felt board did not warrent excessive sweating or teeth grinding.

This time around, I had some perspective. I did not notice what the other moms were wearing, because, who the Hell cares? I did not worry about what they were thinking, or more specifically, what they were thinking about ME. 

Why? Because they are not thinking about me.  We are at a story hour…for toddlers.  IT’S NOT ABOUT ME. An ‘AH-HA’ Moment! Thank you, Oprah. I got it now.  The eagle has landed.  Lesson learned.

Soooo…..does this mean I still have to take her to Gymboree?

Phoebe at Story Hour, Take 2

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter