Cooper is a brute of a kid. He’s not chunky in the least – he’s one solid hunk of love and energy, pushing 24 pounds. The kid can eat more than me when he sets his mind to it, and then burns it off so fast I often find him trying to climb back into his high chair an hour after breakfast.
He’s totally a little brother, too. Kenny and Dudley are the objects of his intense affection, while Casey and I are the comforters and the ones with the food. It hadn’t struck me what a tough guy he was, though, until yesterday when we entered the realm of Rolly Pollie.
Rolly Pollie is the kids gymnastic center we’ve been going to since Kenny was a baby. Kenny has been doing it since before he could walk and is a veritable poster child for fearless acrobatics. He knows all the teachers by name and can conquer just about any obstacle course they put in his path. By sheer necessity, Cooper has been attending the three-year-old class for a year now, originally content to watch from the confines of the front pack, but lately pretty adamant about getting on the floor and following the Big Kids around. Tomorrow for the first time, Kenny will start in a class without me… it’s a two hour session that combines ages three to five and Kenny is barely able to contain his excitement. I’m sure that there will be a moment of panic tomorrow when I actually leave, but I know that he will do great.
But back to Cooper.
Since Kenny will have a parent-free class from now on, I decided that it was high time to enroll The Coop into a class of his own. My options were “6 months to walking” or “Walking to 23 months.” Though I think he’ll probably start walking in the next month or so, I figured that the little baby class would be best – I didn’t want him getting bulldozed by a nearly two-year-old. He gets enough bulldozing at home.
So we arrived on Monday evening at 5 for Cooper’s First Class. I brought a backpack full of things to keep Kenny occupied for the 45 minutes and we settled in to give it a go. So did 25 other babies and their parents. Because it was an intro, it was way over-booked, and we could barely all squeeze into the “welcome circle.” We were instructed to set our sweet things into our laps as we went around the circle and sang a song with each baby’s name (and Mommy’s name) in it. I sat Cooper in my lap as we began, and he tore out and crawled at breakneck speed to the opposite side of the circle and whapped at little girl on the head.
“Cooper!” I yelled, as the other Mommies sang, “Hello to Jack with his Mommy Lin-da!” and the mother of the unfortunate whapp-ie began to coddle her daughter and glare at Cooper. Cooper waved happily as I scooped him up and returned sheepishly to our side of the room. He sat for 4 seconds and was off again. I grabbed him and grabbed a foam block for him to hold. He bit off a piece and chewed it thoughtfully before winging it aside and crawling to the teacher and trying to grab the puppet out of her hand. We finally got through the song and the teacher “released” us to try out the different sections of the gym. “Mama?” Kenny shouted. I ran over with Cooper in arms, “Yes, honey?” “There’s a big boy playing over there!” Indeed there was. Another older sibling was present and rather than sitting in the waiting area, as my angel was doing, this hellion was running reckless through the over-crowed gym, dodging babies and swinging on the trapeze. “Can I play too?” Kenny asked, sweetly.
Here is where I should have stuck to my guns. I should have said no, then tracked down a teacher and said, “Hey- are the big kids allowed to play, too? If so, I have a three-year-old who wants to jump on the trampoline. If not, can you please ask that other little boy to go back to the waiting area?” But no. I was already flustered from Cooper’s early antics. And did I mention that immediately before we came to Rolly Pollie we spent a few hours at the pool? We were already set up for disaster.
“Sure,” I said, not really happily. “But if you want to come out, you have to stay with me and play with me and Cooper.” Yeah. That worked for about 45 seconds.
Within a minute, Cooper and I were following Kenny around and I brought a quick halt to that. “Kenny, this is Cooper’s class, not yours. You have to stay with me and him, or go back and wait.” At this, Kenny began to wail. Not just sniffle, but bawl uncontrollably. Maybe too much time in the sun? Too close to dinner? Jealousy? Whatever. I started getting stares, and I pinched his arm. “Stop it!” I hissed, and told him to stay close to us and cut the tears.
Needless to say, Cooper did not have much time in the sun for the remainder of the class. Oh, we had fun in the moonbounce, fun in the foam pit, fun on the parachute, but somehow the glow was off the playtime for me. I really wanted Cooper to have the experience of being #1 for once and I felt like it was snatched from him.
Afterward, we got in the car and had to catch a late dinner and then drive to pick Casey up at the airport. I don’t even need to recount going out to dinner with two over-tired, over-emotional, really hungry kids, do I? Just imagine food flying everywhere and Kenny jumping on his chair and you’re right there with us.
As for Cooper and Rolly Pollie, we’re going to try out the older baby class later in the week. He was a little past most of the stuff we did last night, and I’m hoping that with a smaller class, and at a different time of the day, Kenny will do better hanging out with his coloring books so that I can just focus on Cooper. He really is a fantastic kid, and so often he ends up banging blocks together in the corner while I more actively play with Kenny. I want to be able to engage with Cooper like I did with Kenny when he was one. I don’t want to miss this sweet little explorer age.
But how do you do it with Number Two??