I signed Ellie up for a baby story time at our local library.  It’s only for twenty minutes once a week.  I figured this would be a good opportunity for her to enjoy story time, to see other babies, and for me to meet other parents.  But I was also a little worried what kind of group this would be.  It could be a total fun story time, or it could be the most awkward group of people put together in a room making twenty minutes feel like two hours.

Ellie had a sh*tuition that needed attending to before story time so we arrived a few minutes late. Other than being late, I showed up prepared.  I feel a silent pressure from society since I am a stay-at-home-dad.  That being a man I’m more likely to be unprepared, forgetful, and late.  To prove this wrong, I try to be on top of things at all times.  So I walk in late mid-story and everyone turns around and stares at me.  I have my man-bag diaper-bag, and a pink burp cloth in my back pocket.  I’m feeling prepared.  But as everyone is staring at me I notice NO ONE else has a diaper bag or anything with them.  I know this is only twenty minutes long, but I’d hate for Ellie to puke with excitement and to have to ask someone for a rag.  Or for her to have an explosive dump in the library and not have diapers handy.  Why am I the only forward thinking person in this group?  I kinda hope some kid pees their pants and a mom has to leave early.  Should have been prepared, I’d think.  I get over the awkward stares and after the first story we introduce ourselves to the group.  There are five kids including Ellie.  They are all there with their mom’s except one kid has both parents.  I’m the only solo dad in the group.  I’m also the only prepared parent in the group.

Have you ever been involved in those team building exercises in school, or those awkward ice breakers?  Where nobody wants to do it, but your instructor is super excited about.  Where all the kids are either mocking it, or only doing it half-way because they are embarrassed.  That’s what this class felt like.  The instructor was super excited and animated and all of us parents were awkwardly saying the stuff half-way, either mumbling it or whispering it to our kids.  It’s one thing to be all “Hi Sweetie pie!  Whos’my Ellie belly!?  Are you my Ellie belly!?  Here comes the tickle monster!!!” in your own home.  But to do that kissy face stuff and dancing hands in front of a bunch of strangers, it doesn’t feel as natural.  We were all feeling uneasy which helped, but it also made it even more awkward.  Another thing that made the parent participation difficult for me was I don’t know the words to the songs we were being forced to sing-a-long to.  When I sing Twinkle Winkle Little Star at home to Ellie I always end up mixing in words from Rudoplh the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  I’m not sure how or why, but it always end on “won’t you guide my sleigh tonight.”  Same thing with the Pattie Cake song.  I don’t know the words at all.  So I faked it.

Ellie was cautious at first.  She was sitting in my lap looking at the instructor like “this lady is crazy…  but I kinda like her!”  She didn’t really notice how uncomfortable I was or that I didn’t know the words so she started to really enjoy herself.  And then the lady brought out the bubbles.  These five kids went nuts!  It’s like she was throwing candy or money in the air.  This is when Ellie made her move.  She headed straight for the older long-haired boy and tackled him with a smile.  She patted his shoulder and tried to climb up on him.  He just froze.  “Who is this lady!”  When he felt it was safe, he slipped away and went back to his mom.  Then Ellie headed for another little girl.  Let’s just hope she just has a thing for hair, and not an inclination for long-haired older boys.  Maybe when her own hair comes in she won’t be so fascinated by other’s.

Before the next class, it seems I need to practice the lyrics of children’s songs.  Too bad they don’t sing any Guns’N’Roses in this class because I’d be golden.  I mean there are already sparkly bubbles, long-haired boys, and girl groupies.  Paradise City anyone?

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