I signed us up for an 8-week art class, partly to have something to do with E that was during the week and partly to give us a reason to take the long way home some days after school. Then, I promptly forgot about it.
Today was our first class. I fretted leading up to the class: how to get there via public transportation, if I’d have to make small talk with the other mothers, if I’d have to hustle E off after he pushed over a bunch of new toddlers and we might not be able to return. Yup. Completely ridiculous thoughts, but sometimes, I get myself too worked up about such things.
Because I hate being late, we were in the area of the class 45 minutes early and spent that time getting an early dinner, people watching, and preparing (me, not him; can you see a theme here?).
“We’re going to art class!” I explained. Why was I amazed when E looked at me blankly? He had no context for art class; it was as foreign as…who knows? The point is that I tried to tell him the plan, but because I also had no idea what to expect, it ended up being a hilarious filler of a conversation. I think I might have ended up changing the subject abruptly and we started singing.
BTW: When in doubt, I’ve found, a song can often save the day, especially if it’s one by Raffi and involves shaking sillies out.
The doors opened and we took the elevator up to the art space, a large room with five stations: painting, t-shirt making, big paper and crayons and some sort of bird making with feathers, googly eyes, glue. I can’t even really describe those other stations because E had no interest in them. Instead, after walking in, he made a beeline directly to the final station: a bin filled with some sort of sand, toys and two dump trucks. He was apprehensive, bending at his waist to stare into the box. I picked up some of the sand (which wasn’t really sand, but more a mixture of sand and some sort of play doh) and placed it in his hand, patting the floor beside me as I rested on my knees.
After that moment of hesitation, he plunged his hands in, grabbed one of the trucks, sat down, and commenced to play for the next 40 minutes. When I suggested we try some of the other stations, he shrieked, nearly bursting into tears at the thought of not being able to play in the sand.
Initially, I felt sheepish that we’d come to a play date and stayed in the sand box. What was great was that E played with the other children, shared the toys, didn’t throw sand, and, praise the heavens, didn’t push anyone! Also, the other mothers seemed to all know each other and lost themselves in a series of conversations about preschool registration, what their kids were eating at their Montessori schools, and where they went on vacation. They were polite when their kids came over to the sand box, but I realized I could just play with E without any worry of having to interact because they weren’t interested in me at all. The experience reminded me of the women I knew in my past life as part of the Junior League (which, I will admit here, I was a member for a number of years): I’d found those women friendly enough, but mostly standoffish. Cordial, but nothing more. That realization was a nice reminder about why I was there in the first place: to have something to do with E for a few weeks that would be fun and that we could do together.
The hilarious part of this day was that, with five minutes left, E decided he wanted to visit some of the other stations. We sprinted over to the bird station, took a few pieces of cut up paper plate and glued some tissue paper and a feather on it, then trotted over to the t-shirt station (?), squeezed on some purple and green puffy paint and called it a day. This abbreviated rest of the play date was the perfect amount of time at each of them, frankly, and we were able to get something done to take home with us. Yay!
I knew E thoroughly enjoyed himself because when it was time to leave the sand box, he didn’t complain. No crying or having to pick him up once his body went limp to carry him out. Instead, he helped corral the stray sand and toys, said “bye, bye, sand,” and took my hand as we prepared to leave.
I’d call this a successful art class.