Yesterday, I took the girls to storytime at the local library for the first time. I had been avoiding it since B was born because well, B can be a B when we're in public. The last thing I wanted to have happen was for her to start screaming her head off as the librarian was reading and me have to leave HJ alone to inevitably melt down when she realized I was gone. I didn’t want to be “that mom.”
I got brave yesterday. Too brave.
I strapped B to my chest in a baby carrier and walked HJ in by the hand. We went to the storytime spot and made a nametag that she left on her shirt for a total of 30 seconds. I found a seat in the back of the room and encouraged HJ to sit with the 10 other toddlers at the front.
Ha! Yeah. Nice try, Mom. Miss Stranger Danger was NOT having that business. Apparently, those other tiny innocent children are absolutely terrifying and are not to be trusted. She insisted to sit on my already crowded lap.
Well, that lasted two books and a song in when she realized that I stupidly put on her sparkle shoes. The very shoes that encourage her to dance around like a cast member of Footloose.
Did you know that you could do "Gangnam Style" to "Old McDonald?" Yep, sure can. She was shuffling, twirling, jumping and shaking her tiny butt to that cow with a moo moo here and a moo moo there. Cute? Yes, but Miss HJ is still learning about personal space and awareness of others. She about took out a 1-year-old with an out of control pirouette and also shuffled into someone’s grandma. And when the song ended? Oh, you can totally dance to stories about ducks and chickens. TOTALLY.
How the heck do you respond in a situation like this? I don’t want to discourage how happy it all makes her and cause a major meltdown, but then again, she can’t act like a jerk to others in public. On top of that, I have the real atom bomb strapped to my chest while I’m trying to corral the “good” child.
I was “that mom.” But for very different reasons.
Every conflicting piece of parenting advice I’d ever heard was going through my mind: Don’t stifle her self-expression! Don’t let her run the show! Make her sit and be well-behaved! Let her explore! Let her be a kid! Get control of your child!
Ugh, 90 percent of the struggles I have as a mom is trying to figure out which one of those internal voices I should listen to. Do I need to be the strong disciplinarian or do I need to let go and let her learn on her own (obviously making sure that she and others are safe)?
Thankfully, storytime ended shortly after this and we were able to take this dance party home. But you know what happened when I queued up my Justin Timberlake Pandora station so she could dance in our kitchen?
She wanted to read a damn book.