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Beyond Mommy And Me


Don’t tell, but a world without Mommy and Me classes can be – a relief.
Mommy and Me (aka Mommy or Daddy & Me, or A Special Grown-up & Me, depending on how inclusive the class organizer wants to appear, grandparents and nannies representing good markets too) classes are mainly pre-pre-school classes where the adults hang out with the toddlers while they all sing or read stories or do crafts or yoga or whatever else the class is about. They’re aimed at kids who aren’t in daycare or preschool; the kid gets to have fun, the adult gets to see others of her ilk.
But, where I’m living in Spain now there aren’t any Mommy & Me classes. And, at least for little one- and two-year-olds on weekday mornings, it’s also hard to find library story hours, baby gym classes, craft making in stores, puppet shows, park walks and all the other activities that stay-at-home parents in the U.S. use to create sometimes impressively filled schedules for very small people. Instead, here by age two most kids seem to be in preschool (as I talked about last week) .
There’s not the same expectation that stay-at-home parents are going to be Mommy (or Daddy) Cruise Director, filling up the kid’s day with fun, stimulating, educational activities. So although I usually enjoy an occasional Ma & Me class (you can’t deny that “Wheels On the Bus” has a certain appeal), I’ve accepted that I simply can’t find one, or many other activities. And it’s – kind of liberating.
Even though I tried not to go overboard with activities in the U.S., it’s hard to buck the Cruise Director subculture, or to avoid the idea that these activities are a “stimulus” your kid could really benefit from. Also, part of the pleasure of being at home is doing these (mostly) fun activities, which are a good break for me and the little guy who hangs with me. Plus, he enjoys them. I think.
So I would prefer to have more options, but it certainly simplifies things not to have to think about, sign up for, chauffer to and participate in different activity possibilities. (Similar differences between France’s and the U.S.’s childrearing cultures apparently struck Judith Warner, author of “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety,” the 2005 book that’s drawn lots of attention looking at some of the current parenting excessiveness.)
I wonder if the fact that preschool is pretty much the way to go for everyone, and that parents aren’t expected to drag their toddlers around to advanced baby signing and Mommy and Me website development classes, helps reduce any so-called divide between stay-at-home and working moms – not that moms divide neatly into two categories. (If you need more reading, here’s one of the latest books about working and stay-at-home moms.) If by age one, and certainly two, most kids are doing roughly the same thing, and most mothers have some adult time for themselves, then that could eliminate a lot of the guilt or defensiveness mothers might feel about their choices. I’d be happy to see that go, even if it does mean I forget a few verses of “Wheels On the Bus.”

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 6:27 PM | Permalink

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