At 5:25PM yesterday, Charlotte, Trystan and I were in the lobby of our community center, waiting for Charlotte's weekly dance class to begin. We had arrived 7 minutes earlier, just enough time to dress in pink tights, long-sleeved pink leotard, pink chiffon ballet skirt, and a pair of pink slippers that are about two sized too large. My totebag held many useful items: diapers and changing pad, toys for Trystan, my cell phone, a bag of Teddie Grahms for the ballerina; however, it did not have a hairbrush. Luckily, the dress code is not particularly strict, and a headfull of loose and tangled hair would not earn me any disapproving frowns, or lose her any stickers on her weekly scorecard. Then again, I'm not sure anyone could see whether Charlotte's hair was tangled, as she "waits" every week for dance class at a full sprint.
The lobby area where the parents wait is about 20x20, with chairs set around the perimeter and a large-screen TV at one corner, tuned to the evening news. Charlotte warms up for class in generally the same way every week: running laps in the open space between the chairs, occaisionally stopping to eat a few bites of snack, or to feed her brother. She greets the other girls, and occaisionally shares her snack with them as well; she has learned to ask their parents first before doling out food, though I rarely pack anything with nuts or other objectionable ingredients.
It would be a lovely half an hour for me to catch up on world events, or even to read, if it weren't for Trystan. Exactly once in the last 6 weeks, he has fallen asleep enroute and snoozed through most of the class. The rest of the sessions, he has spent crawling at top speed towards any interesting object: other girls' dance bags, Charlotte's snack, the TV cabinet where a thoughtful person has left a small bag of extra screws and several sheets of paper instructions. The toys work as a distraction for about 30 seconds of our entire adventure. They do, however, serve as lures for attention from the older girls. Trystan has acquired quite a following among the 6pm class, who have already mastered the feminine way of cooing and fawning over a baby. He flirts shamelessly with all of them, hoping to snag a hat or a spare shoe, or, like last night, an entire Dora the Explorer backpack to play with.
Charlotte really enjoys her class these days, and her previous separation anxieties are long gone. Nowadays, she begs for tap shoes, though I tell her every week that she has to wait until she turns 4. We are all exhausted by 6:19 when we get home, and Charlotte can be horribly grumpy. Dinner generally perks her up, and I suspect that she needs more fluids; despite a half hour of post-sprint dancing and a bag of graham crackers, she had insisted that she wasn't thirsty yesterday. I tend to be thirsty too, as I quit bringing my ever-present water out of the car after the second time I spilled it in my bag. Juggling a baby, a preschooler, and anwieldy totebag through a parking lot makes me feel less than graceful.
We are generally inclined to allow our little athlete some rest time on dance class days by watching a "short show" or two (current favorites being Dora or Max and Ruby). Last night, although Charlotte had previously been granted approval for after-dinner TV, she curled up with her Leap Pad for a long stretch of quiet play time instead, followed by architecting block towers with her daddy (where they butted heads over wheter or not to include board books as structural features).
She had a late burst of energy during a conversation about what the Easter Bunny might bring her, and began running in circles again, though in a much more confined spot in our living room. I couldn't help but laugh out loud at her, in fleece footed pajamas, running and saying "The Easter Bunny brings grapes and apples and jelly beans and grapes and jelly beans, and More Jelly Beans, and MORE JELLY BEANS!" You would think she was burning off the sugar rush instead of anticipating it.