I will never forget the day I found out that Dexter was going to become The Middle Child. I remember staring down at him as he sat unsteadily on the floor, a positive pregnancy test trembling in my hand. Liam had gone to stay with grandparents for the weekend and we were supposed to be enjoying alone time with the baby- this baby- our baby. He had just learned to sit up independently and he grinned at me proudly, dimples flashing. I just wanted to cry. I thought I was ruining his entire life.
Spoiler Alert: I wasn't.
Yes, Dexter is the middle boy in a family of boys. Yes, he has an older brother that demands constant attention and a younger brother with special needs that require a lot of attention but this boy is fierce, loud, clever, and wild. This boy makes you want to pay attention. Perhaps this was his personality from the beginning or perhaps he simply learned how to make himself heard, but either way, Dexter is going to be just fine.
I do not worry about Dexter at all, but I am always aware of his predicament. Being a toddler can be hard. On top of this, his days are often spent being shuffled from soccer games and homeschooling co-ops to therapy sessions and doctor appointments and not a single minute of it is meant for him.
So, I try to always be mindful of carving out time whenever possible to nurture my wild boy, to provide room for him to explore his own interests at his own pace, and to connect with him on a personal level. In the mornings, he crawls into bed with me to nurse and cuddle while Papa gets the other boys breakfast. When Liam is at Forest Kindergarten and Rory takes his nap, we play with trains, draw and watch Little Einsteins because these are the things he loves. If someone needs to run a weekend errand, we only ask Dexter if he would like to go so that he can wander through the store with us, never once being told to hurry along or to slow down.
And on Saturday mornings, we go to Music Together to see "La-La."
Dexter loves, loves, LOVES Music Together. He waves good-bye happily from the car as he heads to class in the morning, he wiggles with excitement when we pull into the parking lot, he runs as fast as his little legs will carry him to the door, he sings, dances and plays instruments with all his heart, and then he screams and screams when it is time to leave.
I will admit that I was slightly hesitant to sign him up at first because I had taken Liam to a different early childhood music class when he was a toddler. We enjoyed it, but I never felt he received any great benefit from it. I am endlessly glad we gave this class a chance. It has been a very different experience.
Sharla (or "La-La" as Dexter affectionately calls her) is a fabulous teacher. Dexter has learned a lot in class, but I have definitely learned more. She always takes the time to tell us how different aspects of the class are beneficial and ways to incorporate more music at home. This was one thing that was missing from the other class we tried so many years ago. Clearly, dancing with scarves and banging on drums is super fun, but we could do that at home! What I do not have access to at home is a knowledgeable instructor to share with me ways to make my child's life more musical and why I should. Plus Dexter just loves her. He regularly asks to visit her house, which is a pretty big deal for my little homebody.
I also really like the mixed-age classes. The homeschool mom in me will never understand sticking a bunch of kids in the exact same developmental stage in a class together. I just don't think it allows them to learn as much from each other. In Dexter's class, there were babies under one and kids as old as four. The classes are also open to kids of all abilities, which is something that has become increasingly important to me for obvious reasons. I really love the dynamic this inclusivity creates. It is a rich environment that feels less like a formal class and more like friends coming together to make music and have fun.
I have never really considered myself a musical person. Papa is the musician. He plays the guitar, he teaches Liam to play the piano and he sings the boys to sleep every night. I have always be content to just sort of let music be Papa's thing. However, music class has really encouraged me to embrace my own musical side. We all sing along to the Music Together c.d. in the car, I make up silly songs to sing to the boys about the things we are doing throughout the day, and we have daily dance parties with Club Radio on Pandora. What I lack in talent, I make up for in enthusiasm, and I can see how letting go of my own insecurities has allowed more music into our lives.
Sharla asked if I would be willing to write something up about our experience, and I sort of wish I had something negative to include to balance things out a bit. It has just been an overwhelmingly positive experience. The only negative thing I can think of is that it has been ages since I was able to listen to NPR in the car because not listening to the "La-La" c.d. causes a total meltdown. I do miss my NPR.
I think my very favorite part of this experience has been spending Saturday mornings with Dexter. He knows that music class is his special time. His personality really has a chance to stretch its legs and I have some time to enjoy this wild child of mine uninterrupted. Later, as he sings all the words to all the songs he has memorized, he grins that same proud dimpled grin that he grinned at me so many mornings ago as he sat wobbling on the floor while his fate as the Middle Child was sealed.
It turns out, life as the middle child isn't so bad at all.
If you are local, please check out Shar-La-La Music Together classes. You can attend a free demo class and I really think you will love it. If you are not local, you will be missing out on the fabulous La-La, but you can still check out Music Together's website to see if there are classes near you. It has been such a wonderful addition to our lives. I think you will love it too.
WHO AM I?
I am Michelle: a wannabe hippie in love with a bonafide geek. We also spawned. I spend my days with our four wild, beautiful boy children and I overshare about our life online because I am a Millennial and that is what we do.