By: Sheana Ochoa
This morning my two-year-old and I attended a class sponsored by a Los Angeles-run program, Ready by Five –the idea being both parents and children attend a mock classroom situation wherein all the skills a child needs when he starts kindergarten will be acquired, from playing with other children to picking up toys after playtime. I had to wait over six months before the 13-week class for my son’s age group started a new session, and today I found myself among fifteen kids between the ages of one and two and half and their respective caregivers.
I was surprised and pleased to discover the entire hour and half was held in Spanish. I’ve written before how I want my son to be bilingual; this not only helps his Spanish, but mine as well. I didn’t assume every other person there would be Spanish speaking. I thought there would definitely be other minority groups: African-American, Asian, Philipino, but it was all brownies and boy was I in my element. I’ve always felt more comfortable with Latinos than with whites.
I’m half-Mexican, but I’m fair. The only other white person in the room was the child psychologist who also spoke Spanish. The morning started off with playtime followed by clean-up time and then we were asked to gather in a circle, with our children on our laps. My son was distracted by all the animal figures and we arrived last to the circle, but this did not deter him from walking straight into the middle as if he were about to break dance. The other children slowly followed in tow as their mothers/grandmothers let them go. We sang songs and then we all sat together and ate Cheerios, which I was happy for because after offering my son Cheerios this morning, followed by waffles, eggs, fruit, and yogurt, each of which he declined with a definitive “Nooooo,” I gave in and gave him a Cutie (a tofu ice-cream sandwich).
So, when the last half-hour comprised of the adults sitting back in a circle without the children to offer up ideas for future tertulias, I brought up my concern with getting my son to eat what I offer him. I was glad to know others had the same concerns along with throwing food, potty training, and discipline in general.
I’m doing this new motherhood thing by intuition. I’m proud to announce I’ve been consistent, patient and loving with Noah, but you always feel you could be doing better. For instance, I didn’t realize he was ready to begin saying “please” and “thank you,” and if it weren’t for daycare, he wouldn’t know these pleasantries. I feel so proud of him when I hear him thank someone after receiving something, but I can’t take any credit there. I don’t even want the credit. I just want to know what to do and when to do it.
What I observed overall was that not once did my boy whine the entire hour and half of class. This was revelatory, because the minute he wakes up most mornings he’s whining for his “baba” or for “Barney.” (Me, the woman who hasn’t watched TV in over a decade and intended the same for her son, but found his attention span at 6 months to watch Baby Einstein abnormally long and, especially when I was ill in bed the first year and half postpartum, a godsend. So, I check out DVDs from the library every week and we watch them together for better or for worse.) The point I was trying to make is even when I pick him up from daycare, before we even get half way down the street, he is already whining to get out, or to go home, or for a ball, etc., and to not hear him whine for that hour and half was so enjoyable. We were in the moment. We played. We sang. We wanted for nothing. Now, how do I replicate that at home? Ah, there’s the rub!