Saturday, July 22, 2006

Tenley Does Art

Back at the end of March, I comitted Jeff and I to get soaked for 60 something a month for Tenley to go to Gymboree. This is really an excuse to watch your kid climb around on an ever-changing indoor playground with other kids while you sing silly little songs that will get stuck in your head and try vainly to reinforce the concept of the day (such as "over" & "under") and basic life concepts that are lost on almost 2 year olds such as sharing and taking turns.

I have no idea if it has given Tenley any better grasp of "stop & go", "up & down" and "through"; but she really loves having interaction with other kids of the same age range every week and it wears her out so she takes a good nap. The best thing I have gotten out of Gymboree is Kim & Jaxon. I'm so excited to have a stay-at-home-mommy friend, and Jax & Ten are only a couple of months apart, so they play together really well and genuinely seem to like each other. It also helps to have someone else in the same trench to discuss your child's general craziness with and discover that no, your kid is not weird, they're all like that.

Occasionally, Gymboree tries to see if it can bleed us for more cash in the name of enriching our children. Sometimes it's with "Gymbucks", ($25 off of a $50 or more purchase- one Gymbuck for every month you schuck out the 60 something), and sometimes it's with free class previews. As willingly as Mowgli went to Kaa in the Jungle Book, Kim and I were seduced by getting to try 4 of the art or music classes for free, and optimistically signed Tenley & Jaxon up for 2 art classes.

This last Thursday was art class #1. The theme was Gymbo the Clown's Birthday! Now despite the fact that clowns give me the willies, I dutifully dressed my kid in mismatched clothes and took her to Gymboree for her first art class. Here's how it went down:

Tenley & Jaxon were excited to be there until they realized that they weren't going to get to climb all over the play equipment.
They were on the mats, but there were no bubbles and no parachute. They became suspicious.
Escape attempt #1 was led by Tenley as she discovered an opening between the canopy cordoning off the art area and the gym.
Playdough was brought out, and it was interesting, but they didn't see why we wanted them to do something more with it (like cut out shapes) - they were fine with googing it in their fingers and trying to eat it.
Our first art project was making a birthday hat for the kids to wear. Tenley did really well at picking out different colored pieces of paper for the edge of the hat, and even let me help her glue them on! She did have to be stopped from trying to use the gluestick as lipgloss.
Jaxon hates hats, and as soon as he realized that Kim was going to try to put that thing on his head, he organized escape attempt #2 out the gap in the canopy on the other side.
Both kids did a great job at helping clean up by stacking the art trays and putting the crayons away- we were so proud!

Then Gymbo the Clown came out (some poor girl in the clown outfit you see above) and we sang happy birthday and began our next activity: decorating cupcakes. Oh no. I had visions of Tenley frosting me, Jaxon and the walls. It was with great trepidation that I took a popsicle stick and got a glob of frosting on it and handed it to her. She proceeded to surprise me by carefully attempting to frost her cupcake with great focus and a very delicate hand. I helped her a little at the end, and it was actually a pretty good job for a 22 month old with a small wooden stick! Then it got ugly. It began with the staff giving each kid a little pile of sprinkles in their hand to decorate their cupcake. Tenley threw hers in the air like confetti and began dancing around on them, grinding them into the crevices of the mats. Then it was time to eat the cupcake, and there was a small meltdown about handing me the cupcake to get the paper off of it, but that was cut off when she snatched the naked treat back and began stuffing chuncks of it into her mouth. I asked if she would share with me, and she did: providing I only took a small bite from the cupcake still in her hand- a large bite or attempting to hold the cupcake were met with that horrible shrill "no, no, no, no, nooooo!" kids her age make. Eventually she finished and immediately looked at me and said "Moooore?!?" Um, no.

Gymbo painted their faces. Jaxon ran right over when he was done to give me a huge bear-hug and plant his now red cheek on my white shirt. Hey, that's what bleach is for- the hug was worth it.
We said goodbye to Gymbo, and began art project #2: making Gymbo's face out of pre-cut construction paper. Ok, Kim & I made Gymbo's face because Jaxon & Tenley had no interest what-so-ever and were busy jumping and rolling around on the mats. By the time we were hanging our masterpieces, the kids had escaped and were happily climbing on the gym equipment.

Wow. So maybe art class for the 20 something month set was not such a good idea. We chatted with the leader after class about next week's lesson, and our kids attention span (or lack therof), and whether we needed to skip out on that. She shocked us by telling us that both kids did really well, and that their attention span was great for their age considering it was their first class! She went on to explain that it usually takes 3 or 4 sessions for them to really get into it and stop playing "prision break". Who knew?

So next week we will wear our pj's and attend the "slumber party" where we will draw the night sky on black paper with colored chalk to show contrast. Should be a hoot.

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