Friday, September 14, 2012

The Absurdity of Baby Music Class

I'm not sure what I was expecting.

Henry and I went to our first baby music class on Tuesday, and I was excited. Did I think he was going to spontaneously burst into song? Perhaps a soft-shoe number? Did I think I was going to meet my new best friend? Did I think he was going to meet his new best friend? Because none of those things happened.

What did happen was this: We sat in a circle, sang songs, banged on drums and shook percussion eggs.

Photo credit: Labanex
And by "we," I mean the mommies (and a couple nannies). The babies mostly gummed the instruments and looked around, utterly perplexed. I could almost hear the chorus of "what the...?" buzzing inside their little heads.

The scene was admittedly farcical: a bunch of over-eager mommies sitting in a circle clapping their babies' hands to songs they didn't know; an extraordinarily cheerful leader giving out toys and then taking them away as fast as lightning; sitting down singing; standing up dancing; sitting down again; lights on, lights off, lights on. Round of applause!

What the...?

I'm sure Henry will grow to love every minute of it. Plus, as the New York Times Well blog recently wrote in its post, Early Music Lessons Have Longtime Benefits, "music lessons in childhood may lead to changes in the brain that persist years after the lessons stop." I'm pretty sure the study didn't look at nine-month olds, but, okay, point taken.

I, however, plan to get something else out of the baby music class experience. I'm going to cling to the image of a dozen genuinely confused infants sitting in a circle. I'm going to remember how absurd it all seemed on that first day. Because we humans habituate to situations. Pretty soon, it will seem completely normal and, I'm sure, desperately important that I'm carrying on singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider, waving my hands around and melting when I see a glimmer of recognition in Henry's toothless muppet smile.

There's a lot of angst in New York about signing your kids up for the right classes (and the right number of classes). It's hard not to be susceptible to the insanity. Baby music class may be important, wonderful and fun. But if I can also stay true to the basic silliness of it all, I might just be able to survive this full-time mommy business.