Today was the day to head to a local nature center for Jack’s monthly class. When I signed Jack up, I had visions of time spent outside, meeting new friends, a break from doing things at home, etc. That reality has not come to fruition. Instead I have a kid very reluctant to go each month, who has trouble staying in his seat, and has a love/hate relationship with another kid in the group.
When we first started going, I stayed out of the class and sat with the other moms. My hope was to gain knowledge and encouragement. I tried several times, but never seemed to fit in with the group. Finally, at month 4 I decided to join Jack in the class. He was having trouble with interpersonal relationships, but I was not ready to give up. By being in the class I was able to see more clearly where the issues were coming from. It took a few times, but today went better.
While Jack has not really made friends, I finally did. Another mom was also sitting in on the class and we started talking. We seemed to click almost immediately.
She gave me some insight into the personalities of the other kids and the cliques that were going on. This helped so much in knowing how to respond to Jack and address some of the issues.
Today I made the decision not to sign him up for classes this Spring. It was a choice that has made me sad, as I really wanted this to work. Perhaps switching to a different day will work better, but I am not willing to put him through this again. I asked Jack’s opinion, to see if my conclusion was on point, and found that he was very okay with not signing back up.
The class moves fairly slow, is loosely supervised and is inside for over 30 minutes, the kids sitting at tables, before heading outside. All things that lead to a bored Jack, which then leads to a kid who finds ways to entertain himself (often ways that also get him into trouble) or runs away because he does not know how else to respond.
I gave my contact information to the ‘new’ mom friend and hope that she calls at some point. As for Jack, I am going to search for other activities to engage him in. I am thinking of having a day each week for a field trip somewhere. It might be a trip to the museum, to a different library, the local state park or even a night of camping.
This may have seemed like a very clear decision. My trouble came with my internal battle. I love nature. I love nature centers. I want my kids to love nature. I really wanted this to work and feel like a failure that it didn’t. Did you notice all the ‘I’ sentences there? Yup. Once I realized it was me holding on to this idea, it was easier to let go of it.
This was a great reminder that a nature center is not the only place I can take the kids learn about nature. For their whole time living here I have been doing exactly that, except without the reluctance and emotional breakdowns.