Bad Mama Diaries, vol. 1: The 11th Circle of Hell

So here’s the deal…

Every week when Grace, Hope, and I go to EPU we have “circle-time.”  If we get there on time, we have thirty minutes of one-on-one with Hope’s early intervention teacher in a little room called an infant nest where our teacher attempts to work with Hope while Grace bounces off the walls and I sit in almost a fetal position against the wall because Grace’s constant motion and noise are giving me motion sickness.  But at 9:30, it’s time for the circle.  

Circle-time is the beginning of Grace’s play-and-grow session.  Everyone sits in a circle and we sing songs for about thirty minutes until it’s time for free play for the kids and support group for me.  For most of the summer I did not have to go to circle-time, I stayed with Hope for the full hour before group and Tammy did circle time, because Tammy likes to do those kinds of things.  Now that it’s just me, I have to go to circle-time.  Some weeks I luck out and my cousin meets us at EPU and she does it.  But most of the time it’s just me and I’ve reached my limit, circle-time is the eleventh circle of hell.

A parent has to stay with the kid during circle-time, and I get that on some level.  They want us to know the songs so that we can do them at home and reinforce the lessons (i.e. traumatic brain injuries are no laughing matter so monkeys definitely shouldn’t jump on beds; don’t tease alligators they will eat you; spiders are resillient creatures so if really want to kill one you’re going to have to use something a little stronger than rain, etc…).  When Grace was a baby I took her to the library for the infant/toddler lap-sit, and to Gymboree.  We had circle-time at those places too and it was a lot of fun.  But Grace was younger then, she could barely walk, barely talk, and wasn’t two…therefore, evil.    She was much easier to contain and coerce into having a good time.  Not anymore.  She doesn’t want to sing the songs (though she knows all of them and sings them around the house), she doesn’t want to participate (though she runs her own variation of circle-time with Hope pretty regularly), and she usually doesn’t want to stay in the circle.  The most annoying part of all of this is that if I am not there, she’s like Cher…singing, dancing, hand gestures…the whole deal.  But if I’m there….ugh.  Apparently nobody is particularly impressed with that argument so I’m stuck in the circle

The one rule of fight-club….er—circle-time is that you MUST remain in the circle.  You don’t have to sing or clap, but you must remain in the circle.  Beyond that the circle works like this: we go around the circle and sing the hello-song to everybody individually.  Then we go around the circle and every kid gets to pick a song.  Last we sing the jack-in-the-box song and then everybody gets to play and I get to leave.  The catch though is that if someone shows up late, no matter how late as long as we’re still sitting in the circle we have to sing the hello song to them and they get to pick their song.  I don’t have a huge problem with that, but I think there should be a cutoff time…I’ll get to that later.

Today there were only about six or seven kids at circle-time to start.  Grace wasn’t singing, and she didn’t want to sit.  She either wanted to stand in front of me, glaring at me like a Stepford child, or she wanted to lay on the floor doing the pluck-and-suck (the p&s is where she sucks one arm while plucking her belly-button with the other, it is sooo disturbing.  She’s turned herself into an outie, the little weirdo).  Well, I won’t let her lay down and the Stepford stare creeps me out so I have to hold her in my lap.  And I still have to sing the songs and do all the gestures.  I don’t think that’s fair.  I know the wheels on the bus go round-and-round.  If Grace doesn’t have to sing the song why do I?  The only song I really like is “slippery fish,” that one I’ll sing with gusto.  But if the parents are always going to have to sing, I think we should get some new songs.  I want to sing “Hey Jude”.

But I digress…

About midway through I noticed Grace’s diaper was squishy.  Thank God!  Let’s go change the diaper, we’ll take our time and by the time we’re back it will be time to play.  When we got back the teacher told Grace to pick a song.  “Oh no,” I said, “we went first.”  

“I know, we’re going around a second time.”

Honest to God, I almost burst into tears.  It’s getting close to my time of the month, I’m a little over-tired and hormonal…this is not a good day to re-write the rules of circle-time.  So Grace picked her second song, I don’t even remember what it was.  I literally put my hands over my eyes for a moment.  The mom sitting next to me has a handful of her own, she felt my pain.  Well, I thought, we’re the second to last ones in the circle–one more kid and we’ll be done.

Then they came in.

Every stinkin’ week this happens.

The tardies.


Today there were only two of them, some days there are four or five who literally walk in on the last or second-to-last song and all of us have to sing hello to all of them and then they all get to pick their songs.  WTF???!!!  

I have just sat here for twenty or more minutes wrestling with my child, barely controlling my own emotions, waiting patiently for our turn to pick a song (because it’s usually the only one she’ll sort-of play along with) and then these johnny-come-latelys just get to walk in and get their hello song, special song, and jack-in-the-box in like five minutes and then free play?  

It is just so, so, so very wrong.

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