As I mentioned the other day, Squiggles and I did something special this Wednesday. I realised a few weeks ago that I'd been in Singapore 6 months and didn't know anyone besides my parents and cousin. What with being 8 months pregnant, having a baby, moving homes with an infant, hosting guests from India and just getting used to motherhood I'd been lazy about meeting new people. I was getting bored of just sitting at home and only mouthing goos and gaas all day long. I needed to get out there, meet some people, preferably with babies, so that Squiggles could benefit from being in a different environment with other adults and babies too. I don't think going to the mall counts because that's more like going to the circus really. All flashing lights, people rushing about, lots of noise - I'm sure that's how Squiggles perceives the whole thing.
So, when last week I received an email from the centre where I attended my ante-natal classes about a mother-child 8 week session I thought what the heck let me give it a try. This was their excellent marketing stunt.
Combine gentle yoga play, careful sensory stimulation ideas, massage and lots of musical moments, expressive communication and you have here a program that engages young infants, creates and strengthens neural pathways and aids their growth. All these while accompanying parents develop the skills of positive parenting through guided parent forums.'
I'm trying to find ways to meet new people and this seemed a good way to start. Plus they were offering a trial session so I didn't have to sign up for the full 8 weeks till I'd sampled it first hand.
The session started at 2 but I decided to get there earlier so I would have enough time to feed and change Squiggles. It's a good 30 mins away and even though I fed her before we left home I fed her some more when we got there just to be sure she wouldn't be hungry and cry during the class.
There were 5 other Mommies and babies there. The youngest baby there was all of 2 weeks old! In fact Squiggles was the oldest baby there :). I'd almost forgotten what she was like when she was tinier but it was so nice to be reminded of just how oh-so-sweet newborn babies are like. I really must admire that woman. I was so zonked out in the first couple of weeks that heading out of home alone with Squiggles was not something I would have even considered. And here she was all alone with her 2 week old looking so cheerful and happy.
It was a nice friendly group and we soon started chatting as all new mums do. Does he do this? Does she do that? Oohing and aahing over each other's kiddos. Someone even said that they thought Squiggles was younger than 4 months which is definitely a first for us! A couple of people were late so we waited for a bit and chatted to the teacher. I thought she was a bit artificial. You know the kind of people who smile deliberately and are ultra sweet. I've found that here in Singapore people in the service industry are all very smiley and sweet. Now I don't mean that I want sour faced people but rather a lot of it seems feigned and not genuine. Or maybe after the non smiling British it's taking me time to get used to what may be genuine friendliness. Whatever.
Anyways, she was really good at the whole thing. We did little stretch exercises, sang songs, danced around with the babies, did texture stuff. Not rocket science, most stuff that I would do with Squiggles through the day in any case. I realised I didn't know any of the songs except Wheels on the Bus and I was really relieved when we came to that one, so much so that I mentioned it aloud as well. That's when an Australian lady next to me looked at me and said "Me too. I only know ABCD". I realised none of us knew the songs and we were just pretending all along! Phew, I didn't feel like such a useless mom after all. By the way, does anyone out there know any Hindi rhymes or songs for kids? Or if you know where I can find them I would be grateful. I seem to be singing only English ones to Squiggles and I want to rectify that.
It was a lovely afternoon, all young mamas completely enamoured with their little ones, secretly praying "Please don't cry". There was a shared camaraderie and feeling of warmth that pervaded the room. Maybe I haven't been out with like minded people in a long time. But it was very relaxing. The babies looked at each other curiously as they lay on the mat. The older babies cooing and gurgling through it all. Squiggles behaved beautifully which was a relief as she has really developed an attitude recently but that's the subject for my next post.
However the one thing that really made the session worthwhile for me was the realisation that unconsciously DD and I had ended up making very negative comments around Squiggles lately. Typical statements pervaded our home - "She's so cranky", "She's such a tantrum queen", "Oh she's going to cry now". Not that we didn't say anything positive or kiss her or hug her but that the negative statements were there more frequently than is good for any child. During the class, after every exercise the teacher would ask us to hug and kiss the child and "honour them for their participation". Every time we did that I saw Squiggles gurgle, coo and smile and I realised I wasn't doing that often enough at home.
I came back with the firm mind of changing how I said things around her and I think it's already working. For example, she always starts crying when I put her in the car seat, so now when I do so I say, "You're such a good girl. I know you'll enjoy the car ride." and I follow that up with a few smothering kisses. I'm leaving her with something positive while I leave her in an environment which she doesn't like. Or now when she's whimpering during a diaper change however annoyed I am, I bend down and hug her afterwards and thank her for being patient. And the whimpering stops and she looks at me with her eyes wide and her face splits into a grin. She's been very difficult for me to handle lately and I have been feeling very frustrated but this approach makes me feel like I am making an effort to approach everything in a more positive way. I can see that it makes her more relaxed and I find myself feeling better about the time I spend with her.
Needless to say, we're going back :) and I'm looking forward to making some new friends.