Thump Crash! Thump. Thump Crash! Thump. Thump.
This morning the tumble dryer was making a terrible racket. I raced over to investigate and pulled out a large dinosaur. Problem solved.
“Problem” Sam will forlornly exclaim when he is challenged. Maybe he’ll be making an elaborate train track across his bedroom floor and the piece he’s holding won’t fit a gap? He’ll turn to me and explain knowingly, “Problem blob.” We then have to engineer a solution NumberJack style.
“What’s wrong Sam?” Hmm, Sam considers the problem. “Too small. Sammy needed…longer.” “Well okay, we need a longer piece of track don’t we? Let’s see if we can find one.” “Longer, longer! Longer, longer!” We scour the pile to find the perfect piece. “5, 4, 3, 2, 1! NumberJacks are on their way!”
Sam adores NumberJacks. Thankfully we now have more than one half recorded episode for him to watch over and over again. His favourite number is 5 and he will get very excited, and jump up and down and proclaim “Cinco!” whenever he sees it.
At his Atlanta preschool Sam was being introduced to Spanish one morning a week. He really seemed to engage with and be interested in the class so I thought it’d be great to try to maintain that interest despite the move. When I discovered that Imaginon, a library in the centre of town, had a Spanish storytime for 3-5 year olds once a week I didn’t hesitate to take him there to investigate.
We got there a little early and so had time to wander around the children’s library. It’s really cool and totally geared to stimulate and encourage children of all ages to participate in reading. The environment is fun and friendly and there are lots of different nooks and comfy spots to settle down with a book. It even has banks of computers equipped with toddler friendly keyboards and learning software.
Sam was very excited and charged into the library ahead of Bea and I who tried to keep up but got distanced from him as a crocodile of school children cut us off from him. I caught up with my little guy as he was stood on tiptoes and peering up to the gentleman librarian at the desk.
“Dinosaur books! Needed!” He requested urgently, stunning me with his boldness and apparent ease. Without waiting for an answer Sam then flung himself into the labyrinth of bookshelves in a quest to find dinosaurs. It was an effort to catch up with him and grab his hand. I had to convince him that we’d find some dinosaur books together. My time flitting through the Dewey system as an assistant librarian finally paid off and we were able to go straight to the land of extinct reptiles and sate Sam’s hunger with more dinosaur books than he could believe.
We sat and read together until a large structure caught his eye and he was off again. Across the library he had spotted a life size wooden play trolley, or tram to us Brits. He charged over. Inside he found a soft ride on toy. It was a little seat on wheels, shaped like a truck. I think it was supposed to be a fun seat for small children to sit on but Sam eagerly boarded it and raced off across the library. Trouble!
By this time people were beginning to arrive to the Spanish class and so we headed over too. The session was held in the far corner of the library, in a space with walls of windows to the street on two sides. Already excited and distracted by his transportation Sam was squealing with joy every time a school bus, car, truck or motorbike drove past. He gave a running commentary. He was very cute, but I don’t think the two Spanish teachers thought he was so great.
I then spent an hour trying to get Sam to focus and not run the other children over with the ride on. Wouldn’t have been so bad but I was also juggling Bea and struggling to maintain composure as she vomited over me (another mum took pity and helped me out with a clean up!) and my boy ran wild. Spanish stories were read and a puppet provided an interactive segment.
I don’t think Sam was handled very well and it wasn’t just his untamed curiosity that was the problem though. I was also getting a little frustrated because whenever Sam did show interest in what was happening the Spanish teacher seemed to ignore him. At one point when the lesson turned to teaching colours everyone was being handed a coloured ball while Sam was left hanging, pleading for attention and being passed over. So no surprise that he would go back to being a nuisance again.
Eventually I managed to detach Sam from the truck toy and he had a full on tantrum mid library. I’d have probably just left in exasperation before this but I was having a hard time pulling stroller, baggage and Bea together and navigating through the parked parents and strollers so that our caravan could depart.
A craft activity was started and instantly Sam became a different child. They were making a dragon puppet out of a brown paper bag. Sam was bypassed again by the teacher and it took another kind mum to step in, remark on the obvious snub and provide Sam with materials. He then happily delved in and became more focused, until he remembered that damn ride on and ran off to fetch it from where I thought I’d hidden it. Gah.
By the end of the hour I was exhausted, embarrassed, frazzled and exasperated, but walking home from the train station Sam suddenly merrily started counting my steps, in Spanish. Sorry teachers, maybe we will be back to bug you next Tuesday after all!