Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Toddler Takeover

Kyle was determined to "own" story time from the moment we arrived.  We were ten minutes late, and the leader was halfway through the first story by the time we walked into the small room in the back of a local coffee shop.  We probably would have arrived there earlier had this not been a last-minute plan of desperation.  Yesterday's weather was gloomy, the playground likely was washed out, and the gym was not open at the YMCA.  Kyle had woken up long before the sun, and Jennifer had another early morning at work.  That meant the little guy was stuck with me alone for a bit longer than usual, and he was quickly running out of ways to test my patience.  With Kyle just minutes away from spray painting the refrigerator, I had to come up with something fast, and that's when I found a card in the office with the story time hours.  I had been mildly curious about it, so I figured we might as well check it out.  No doubt it would be better than staying at home and dousing fires.

Kyle and I quickly scoped out the place when we walked in.  There were about twenty people there, half of them less than three feet tall.  I had to watch my step.  All the adults were either moms or nannies, making me the only dad in the room.   I felt a little awkward, like Ronald McDonald at a PETA meeting, but as a stay-at-home dad, I've become used to being the lone man.  I quietly took a seat along the wall.  Kyle, meanwhile, went straight into action.  He's at a stage where he doesn't follow anybody, and he was ready to undermine the woman who was leading the story time.

"Mommy, Daddy and KYLE!" he shouted at her.  It was his way of introducing himself, as he has yet to figure out how to say, "My name is Kyle and you shall bow to me."  The leader said "hello" back, and then the niceties were over.  It was time for rebellion.  The little guy struck first at the seats.  About ten pillows of all colors were spread out on the floor for toddlers to sit on.  Kyle wanted them gone.  He immediately started collecting the seats, apparently in an attempt to steal the leader's audience.  He picked up two or three at a time and stacked them in a pile next to me.  Soon other toddlers joined in the fight, and within minutes, all the seats were gone, replaced with a handful of kids wandering aimlessly with their pillows, not listening to any stories and blocking the view of those who were.  Kyle's plan was working.

The little guy's next operation was aimed at the books themselves.  Either he did not like what the leader was reading, or he wanted to read the picture books himself.  Personally, I didn't mind the stories, except maybe for the one about the crack-dealing homicidal pyromaniacs.  Kyle, though, was determined to get new books.  With the seats now gone, he easily ran to the other side of the room, and squeezed himself between a chair and a table blocking a bookshelf. 

"Book!  Book!" he said loudly in my direction.  The leader pretended not to hear and kept reading.  I ignored him, too, and pretended some other kid sitting in the back was my child.  I had hoped that the lack of attention would convince Kyle to do the reasonable thing and sit down.  Instead, he kept calling to me as he attempted to climb onto the table.  Even though Kyle has spent a lot of time at the gym, he doesn't have a good set of guns just yet, so he managed to only get his chin above the table.  At this point, his rag-tag team of followers was quickly dissipating.  They were apparently embarrassed by the head of the rebellion, who  dangled by his chin on the table, looked weaker as slipped down.  Also, the leader of story time had just begun a monster tale, and it's hard to be the enemy of someone reading a monster tale.  Even Kyle was half-interested, and he paused a moment to listen.  That's when I took the opportunity to get up and carry him back to my seat.

Once the leader finished the monster story, she encouraged the kids to take part in an activity.  She passed around sheets of paper with big green circles on them, and told the kids to turn the circle into a face.  She then gave each kid a bowl filled with eye, ear, nose, and mouth stickers.  Kyle wanted to make a demonstration out of this silly game, to embarrass the leader into submission.  While other kids were having fun creating images, Kyle spent his time pulling out the stickers one-by-one and placing them on the paper without even peeling the backs off to make them stick.  Once the bowl was empty, Kyle stepped backwards, into the middle of the room, and clapped.  Mission accomplished!  But, by now, the rebellion was over, as Kyle was all alone in his quest.  I helped him put the stickers back into the bowl, and he humbly handed them over to the victorious leader, who all along seemed oblivious to his attempts to overthrow her.  She gave him a small bag of "Veggie Booty" and thanked him for coming, saying she hoped to see him again soon.  Once we were outside, Kyle threw the snack to the floor in disgust.  He demanded that we quickly went home.  For my son, an hour without being in total control was simply too much to bear.

No comments: