Play Groups

On Monday, I took Riley to a “Baby Lab” at a local university for physical therapy students. My mom works in the department and asked if I’d bring him last year, when he was only 7 weeks old. The students studied his reflexes and his physical development. He laid quietly on the mat while the students oohed and aahed over how tiny, cute and precious he was. Fast forward one year and my 13-month old was running and spazzing all over the place. He was playing with new toys, doing new things (like going up and down stairs, cool!), and the most eye-opening thing for me? Watching him interact with his peers. 

I have a very happy, friendly baby, but of course there are some times when he’s shy. He buries his face in my shoulder or my leg when strangers approach him occasionally. So when we got to the lab and I took him out of the stroller, I set him down at our station, with three college students sitting there, and a room full of kids all under 18 months old. It was loud and there was lots of hubub in the big room. When I stood him on the mat, he immediately started walking towards me and I thought, “Oh, here we go.” Thinking that he just wanted to be held and would need some coaxing to warm up to the students. 

But no, the kid walked right past me to go play with the 1-year old at the next station. They shared books, toys, and just kind of stared at each other. Riley even touched the white-blonde hair on the cute little boy’s head kind of like, “what is this and why don’t I have any?” 

I’m proud to say my kid was the life of the party. He visited kids at every station. He did not hit or bite, like he sometimes likes doing to me, Derek and our poor pup, Lola. My mom, who was videotaping this for the class, also couldn’t believe how social and happy he was. He was having the time of his 13-month long life. It made me very  happy, but also made me a little sad.

Riley is not in daycare, which I’m very happy about. However, we take Lola to the dog park to play with other dogs, why aren’t we taking Riley to a playgroup to play with other kids his age?

As soon as we got home, I went on the internet to find a playgroup in our area. I’m super disappointed with what I found.

It is 2010. Things are expensive. Just about every woman I know works outside the house. So why are all playgroups created for stay at home moms? Just because I can’t meet at the park at 9:30 on a Tuesday doesn’t mean I don’t want to take my little boy to a playgroup. This was eye-opening for me. I really thought I’d be able to find a playgroup at like 5:30 or 6 on a week night. 

I also looked at Gymboree and, are you kidding me? $64 a month? I pay a third of that for my own gym membership. Seriously? It does look really cool, though.

Sigh. The search is still on. There have got to be other people out there like me. Who work full time, who have a kid around one, and who would like to just get together to let their babies play in a casual, unstructured environment. Hello? Anyone? Is this thing on?

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