We have been trying for a long time to find social outlets for our girl. Basically, I mainly fail at finding mom friends (big thanks to those I do have!!). And our girl can take a while to warm up. She is amazingly fun, funny, happy and energetic around the loving adults in her life. Her interactions with children? Minimal and slow to take off.
In an effort to finally just get out of the house and around other kids, I jumped on a Creative Dance class listed through the rec centre, and registered her this afternoon. (Let me just add at this point that most other outings, including one this morning to Strong Start, involve tears as other people try to talk with her. Including babies, who apparently can be pretty tough cookies.) We had appropriate prep talks (how to behave, what to expect from the teacher) and left the house to get to the 3:30 start.
No one was there. On inquiring, we learned that the 3:30 class, for 3 and 4 year olds, was cancelled & combined with the 4:30 class for 4 – 6 year olds. I was feeling annoyed and hesitant at this point, but my girl was very excited about a dance class so we stayed. I wanted to go outside while we waited, but she wanted to play in the room and for me to be her teacher. We ran around, chased each other, skipped, and had fun. Yet she also came up to me and said that she didn’t know how to dance … break my heart! Where did she get that message?
About 10 minutes before class started, a girl and her dad walked in and the transformation occurred. Our girl SMILED at her. Showed interest in her. Started moving around with her. Then the assistant teacher and other students came, and she started smiling. She was doing her wild wiggly dance at times, and running around with other students.
The dad left, and then came that moment that parents of introverted children never expect. “Mama, go” she said. And gestured, too! I asked her, she said yes, she wanted me to wait outside. I gathered my things – still in a state of utter shock – and talked her through how to open the door to get me if she wanted. Her new friend offered to help her open the door if she needed. I said I would check back in. And I left.
Peering through the door, I saw her skippitying around the room with other little kids. I saw her grinning widely and laughing as the kids and teachers asked her her name and kept getting it wrong, apparently. She saw me at the window and gestured. I went in to check: surely she wanted me back now?
“Get out, mama.”
Okay then. I watched in amazement the transformation of my daughter into an extrovert, thriving on the presence of these other little creatures. She moved around, listened to the teacher, and was happy to be there.
There was one moment when she wanted me back in the room, and was near tears when I didn’t get inside fast enough … but a brief cuddle was enough to get her back. I danced beside her for about 15 minutes, and the rest of the class she was on her own. Highlights:
- Her delight at being paired with a bigger girl, and her repeated reminder to the girl that “we have to stay together!”
- How well she understood the instructions for one of the paired games, where they touched together different body parts
- Her outspoken response to the teacher request that they name animals to be: “I don’t want to be an alligator, they’re not nice! I want to be a little bear. We should all be little bears!”
- How carefully and persistently she practiced the gallop across the room – taking twice as long as the other girls, but still going all the way across – though earlier when playing with me, she had tried it and couldn’t do it
- The focused, careful way she did the many moves
- The energy and joy she threw into her class, filled with laughter and funny wiggly jumpy dancing.
This was one of the best experiences ever. We are absolutely going back. I will continue to get her out with other kids, and also will stop worrying about her blossoming.
Finally, her summary of the day as we cuddled in bed: “Tong Taut was fun, and dance cass was weeyee fun.”