Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Music and Movement and Mad Tears II

We went to the music and movement class at 4:30pm yesterday.

Last week, he got upset after doing well 20 minutes into the class. The instructor said he got upset when being guided to go through the obstacle course for a second time.

Yesterday, he got upset after doing well 20 minutes into the class. Although this time, the instructor thinks he was upset about being handed to another buddy mid-class. Unfortunately, that was a double whammy. Firstly, Matthew doesn't cope well with change. Secondly, it was someone Matthew was not familiar with.

We had attended a trial class 2 weeks ago and if I remember correctly, he did fine for the first 15-20 minutes before coming apart. That time, it was the last group activity and song with maracas that did him in.

Three classes. Each class lasts 30 minutes. He has lasted 20 minutes on average. There has been a different trigger for his meltdown each time. Several people have told me that 20 minutes of participation (without me by his side) is great for an 18-month old. I believe them. Now the question is - is it worth it trying to stretch him out to being in the class for the full 30 minutes at this age? I wish I knew the answer.

The class instructor suggested inviting Matthew's OT (Occupational Therapist) to sit in with him at one of the classes. Maybe she has some calming techniques to circumvent a meltdown? Maybe they can calm him if they offer a personal object of comfort such as his lion blankie? If I can be in the class with him, he would probably happily make it through 30 minutes but that would defeat the purpose of enrolling him in this class, wouldn't it?

I wish I knew what to do.


Anonymous said...

As I get deeper into this parenting gig, I am realizing instead of calling it "parenthood", they might call it "quandryhood", as it seems every day there is at least one quandry, sometimes small, sometimes much larger, like the one you are currently facing. The great thing about parenting, and the maddening thing about parenting, I find, is often there is no definitive "best answer" or "perfectly right answer". Some quandries even force us to choose from the unappetizing choices of "least worst" and "less bad". I have felt firsthand how hard & upsetting the tears can be to a mother, especially when resulting from something that is extra, something that would in theory be helpful/educational but also fun. Trust me, many a "fun" trip to the zoo or wherever has been summarily thanked with a tantrum, inconsolable tiredness, or whathaveyou, leaving me to second guess myself with "should we have even gone?" But then when I think about the elephants we saw before the eruption, it makes it feel like (maybe) the voyage was worth it, despite the somewhat painful bumps of the day. The tears from these situations don't scar them, although that may not be the case for the mother! In the case of your current quandry, like with many quandries, there is no right or wrong answer. The good news is that either way it is okay. There is no shame in stopping this activity until he's a little older and his "Mommy's Missing Radar" has a longer timer. There's also no harm in continuing to try it, maybe with the idea that what is a 30 min class to others may be a 20 min class to Matthew at the moment. Remember my Thomas in the Preschool Gym activity? It was a 60 min activity for all the other kids, including Matthew, and a 42.6 minute, give or take 30 seconds, activity for Thomas, who often spent the last 17.4 minutes (give or take 30 seconds) having intermittent bouts of being upset and wanting to leave. What's the answer for you, now? I have no idea. Sorry- there's really no good way to tell. Even hindsight, despite the saying of being 20/20, isn't necessarily so in parenting. If we cloned Matthew and had one Matthew go through with the class, and another do a different activity, considering all the love and support he receives from you every minute of everyday, I suspect the results will end up very similar: a boy who knows he is cherished by his parents and family, and a boy who knows love. Even the greatest of mothers find themselves with these questions, wondering what is best, unsure of what to do. I am certain of this, because you are one of the greatest of mothers! :) And don't worry- whatever you decide, I'll be there to second guess you the entire way! Just kidding- just seeing if you were still actively reading or if your eyes were glaized over!

Ria said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with quandryhood, Kris. And thank you to everyone who emailed me with suggestions and support. It is greatly appreciated!