Did Not Appreciate Music Appreciation Class

All these ear parts hurt. All of them.

All these ear parts hurt. All of them.

Five minutes into Baby Music Appreciation class, I am huddled in the corner trying to nurse my frazzled baby as parents waltz their children around the room so that they can feel the rhythm. Slow, fast, fast, slow, fast, fast, slow, fast, fast, sings the teacher, which also describes the tempo of my meltdown.

We go around the room with a chant welcoming each baby by name.

“We clap for Chloe, hello Chloe, we snap for Olive, hello Olive, we bounce for Jake, hello Jake, we emotionally shut down for Teresa, hello, Teresa.” Goodbye sense of peace. This welcome thing goes on forever. By the end of it, my head is tucked into my husband’s shoulder as he holds Buster in his lap.

The other parents seem to be exploding with euphoria, psyched to be slow, fast, fast, slow, fast, fast dancing and bonding on a Sunday morning, and this makes me feel insane, because I’m not just emotionally miserable, I am experiencing a full-on body cramping, head in a vice, eyeballs aching kinesthetic undoing. Several parents come up to us and say, “Claire hated this the first time, too. She nursed the entire class. Now she loves it!”

They say it’s for newborns to 18 month-olds, but I’m starting to wonder if a four month old baby like Buster really needs music appreciation. It’s hard for me to philosophize, because I’m sweating and blinking excessively. The fluorescent lights are too much, as is the clanging of tiny bells and other baby instruments and the intermittent squealing of babies.

Just when Buster is calm, one of these tots lets out a shriek, and he doesn’t know what the fuck.

And I realize that I can’t handle small crowded rooms, or loud noises, or bright lights, never could. My mom took me to Chinese New Year once in San Francisco, where I grew up, and I begged to wait out the whole thing in the car, away from firecrackers and throngs. I still loathe the Fourth of July, with its unpredictable bursts of noise.

The baby is holding up better than I am, but something about the exhaustion and exaltation of new motherhood has made me quicker to dog the things I used to have to pretend to like.

On the way home, I announce that I am never, ever going back there.

Those other parents loved it, their kids seemed okay with it, but I couldn’t hack it. My baby listens to Neil Diamond’s “Hot August Night” every morning in his swing (minus “Sweet Caroline,” because the Mister removed it from the playlist after declaring it f-ed out) and that’s music appreciation enough for now. I am, I said, I quit.

Mommy and me movie? A dark theatre, no forced mingling with other parents as we are ordered to doe-see-doe in parallel lines across the room, that’s just my speed. The breast-feeding moms support group? Didn’t mind that. Anyone who has been a mother for a single day longer than I have has something to teach me, and I’m all ears.

But speaking of ears, mine can’t handle the symphony or horrible songs and baby screams that make up baby music class.

Instead of feeling like a failure, which is my “go to” and always has been, I feel like Julia Roberts in the movie “Runaway Bride.” She doesn’t know what kind of eggs she likes, because she always just orders what her man likes, so she sits down to an egg taste test to find her true self. This is part of a very touching montage. Sorry about using such a lame movie to make a point. I know it ain’t Kurosawa, but I liked it. And I related.

The kind of parent I want to be is the kind that can announce, even in the midst of two-dozen parents with massive loyalty and mad love for baby music class, that I think it sucks. For me, it’s a sweat box of idiocy and overwhelm that Buster doesn’t need and neither do I.

That goes for everything, as I try to sort out what kind of eggs I like. You sleep train, I don’t. That works for you, I think it’s a fad that makes moms feel like powerless losers most of the time. You don’t use a pacifier, I do, cause it works for me and maybe my child will never learn how to soothe himself but I used one when I was a baby, and as my mom says, “You were over it by college, don’t worry.”

You don’t swaddle, I do. You put in your solid ten minutes of tummy time, I cheat the boy out of fully “experiencing” his arms because he loathes it and I’m pretty sure our parents had no idea what the fuck tummy time was and we eventually rolled over and walked, as I walked away from that music class, as I will continue to walk away from things that just don’t make sense for us.

Here’s the music I appreciate: the volume turning up on my own inner voice about how the heck to spend our time. I hate that I just used the phrase “inner voice,” for the record, but how else can I put it? The baby books, the classes, the parenting advice, it can all get loud and bright and cause a girl to panic, and cause a girl to pretend she enjoys crap like waltzing around a packed room with a bunch of strangers and a confused baby in the hopes that he will one day play first violin in the philharmonic. I don’t even know what a philharmonic is, and I don’t care.

Buster has permission to be average.

That’s right. I’m a Jewish mother who doesn’t need her child to be excellent. When that kid flashes me his gummy smile, when he seems content, that’s the beat I can dance to, that’s the way I like my goddamn eggs cooked.

Next time I’m not feeling a baby activity I think I should be doing, here’s how I’m getting out of there. Slow, fast, fast.

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88 Responses to “Did Not Appreciate Music Appreciation Class”

  1. Mich
    March 10, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Music appreciation class for my boy is watching The Lawrence Welk Show on PBS. We’ll graduate him to Neil someday.

  2. Mary
    March 8, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    Go here if you want to know what you have to look forward to…

    Love the blog and podcast, by the way.

    http://paradigmthrift.blogspot.com/

  3. Mary
    March 8, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    I KNEW IT- thank you for attending that hellish baby music class so I don’t have to. I just knew it would be stupid and horrible and pointless for a 2 month old- hello, he doesn’t even know he has hands yet!- but felt a little guilt about not going, after listening to the other moms in breastfeeding class talk about it.

    I hate forced group anything with a passion!! I suspect there will be more of these things as our babies get older- LETS RESIST WITH ALL OUR MIGHT!!

  4. Dave
    March 3, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    Hey T! I saw a clip of you on youtube. You look great! How’d you lose all the baby weight so fast? I think that would be a great topic for your podcast; how to lose weight after having a baby. You look fantastic.

  5. Andy
    February 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    Though I have no kids, I’d have to agree. All it takes is to think about
    1. How long these classes have existed and
    2. Whether being a kid now is really any better developmentally than ever before.
    To realize they are unnecessary except for the person teaching them, to make money because no sane person would hire someone who thinks they’re creating the next Mozart or Rembrant out of a 6 month old by giving them fingerprint and a tambourine.
    By the way, big fan since the radio show, and you are definitely the best looking woman I have spent more time listening to than looking at hah. Kind of a shame really.

    • Mary
      March 1, 2010 at 8:24 pm #

      I don’t know if I’m doing this right – I’m kind of a ‘tard when it comes to tech. But I love The Parent Experiement, live days with Adam (although it seems like you and I are the only women who love Adam), and your blog.

      So you should check out my site! You may not be there with the thrifting, and your Buster is younger than my kids, but I think my blog rocks.

      http://paradigmthrift.blogspot.com/2010/03/i-just-dont-get-it.html

      • Mary
        March 1, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

        Did I misspell experiment? What did I say about being a ‘tard?

  6. Michelle from Six in the City
    February 20, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    Just found your blog after watching you on Dr Phil. Loving your blog and your honesty about parenting!

  7. Ri
    February 20, 2010 at 1:50 am #

    Please. No more Melissa Rivers. She is so strident and tiresome.

    Subscribe and loved the first 3 episodes.

  8. AlysonO
    February 19, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    TERESA!!!! OMG I just saw a clip on youtube of the Parent Experiment – YOU LOOK INCREDIBLE!!! HOW DID YOU DO THAT!?!? You look like you didn’t even have a baby!!!!! I AM SO WICKEDLY IMPRESSED and JEALOUS because I have a feeling I WILL NOT be that lucky!! Just had to tell you- LOOKIN’ GOOD!!!

  9. Wade
    February 18, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    Hey T,
    Was listening to you on Adam’s podcast and heard you describe this blog and your podcast. Let me just say I LOVE The Parent Experiment podcast. It made me laugh all the way to work today and everything was soooo true. I’ve even tasted the milk.

    Once at work, I passed my Iphone to my partner (Police Detectives) who is currently pregnant and watched her laugh the entire time. Now she demands I burn her a disk of all the episodes because she doesn’t have access to podcasts (?).

    Can’t wait to share all this with my wife tonight at home.

    KEEP UP WITH THE TRUTH!

    Wade.

  10. Diana
    February 17, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    you are the best mother ever.

  11. Dale
    February 14, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    Hey Teresa – Off topic, but if you want a goldmine of talking points for your next podcast with Adam, check out John Mayer’s interview with Playboy. It’ll settle the debate once and for all.

  12. maggie
    February 12, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    Teresa, i have adored you for your incredible intelligence and candor for so long. but listening to your most recent parent experiment podcast with stefanie wilder-taylor was torture. i’m a recovered painkiller addict and hearing you sing the praises of vicodin felt like you were taunting me, and anyone else who spends their days fighting nonstop urges to use. please have a little more sensitivity toward us.

    • Andy
      February 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

      maggie-
      if you felt tortured, you should’ve stopped. Real torture is when your strapped to a table with a hot poker in your ass and you have no choice but to lay there and take it. You chose to listen to it and you couldve just turned it off at the mention of vicodin and had a wonderful day. I’m glad your recovering,keep it up, but don’t blame teresa for this.

  13. Kass
    February 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    Teresa, you freaking rock. You inspire even the most non-interested in having babies women to realize that you don’t have to completely change who you are and force yourself into these ridiculous activities once you have a baby. It’s all about loving & enjoying your kid and you seem to be doing a hell of a job at that, so you’re all good!

    Also, LOVE the Parent Experiment…which seems weird because I don’t have any kids but….I think you may eventually convince me to give in :).

  14. Robert'nVista
    February 9, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    While this is neither here nor there in relation to this post, I have to say, Theresa, that you looked realy nice, and back to your sexy self on today’s live ACP w/ BB & Harlan.
    And I thought after listening to you for 4 years now, I’d mention that since about your first month on the ACS it was obvious that finally, some people were working in the business who really knew how to do a clever and spontaneous radio show. And to single you out, I think you are on the short list as one of the very best co-hosts/side-kicks I’ve ever heard ( male, female or transmorphic ) in radio or in transmission media in general. Among many you seem to have a talent for being a catalyst for the wit in the room to reach a deeper level of irony, and today, during the speng shui discussion, I liked your little off-hand gem of:
    ” you have to know yourself as a masturbator “.
    Anyway, it’s fun listening to y’all, so thanks heaps.

  15. Brandon
    February 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    Hi Theresa, love your writing as usual. Also, just wrapped up the second episode of “the parent experiment”. Well done. I would have never guessed the Aceman was a lover of the written word.:)

  16. Jim bartell
    February 8, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    Check this out. Forewarned is forearmed:
    http://www.cracked.com/article_18404_6-shockingly-evil-things-babies-are-capable-of.html

    Keep up the great work!

  17. Mrs. Wonder
    February 6, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    I think those classes are more for parent/baby time for those who have to schedule everything in their life.
    I have played everything from opera to gothic metal for my son, and so far his favorite thing is kids folk music on Pandora.
    I am involved in a moms class, where he will get a little interaction fron other babies, but he’s happiest at home with mommy and daddy reading, playing, or watching Daddy blow up people on our giant TV.

  18. Kat
    February 5, 2010 at 12:49 am #

    The hubby and I are pulling the goalie very, very soon now. I’m a little bit freaking out about it, and excited all at the same time. You have mentioned several times that you have really disliked and disagreed with many baby books. So, when it comes to the baby books, which ones do you recommend, and which ones should I avoid like the plague?

    I LOVE The Parent Experiment, btw. It really is incredibly comforting to me to know that there are two Mommies out there that feel so similarly to me about mommy issues. In the first installment alone, I came away with it with very, very valuable information and some perspective that I really identify with. Thank you for that, keep it coming!

  19. Joe
    February 4, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    Teresa what’s your favorite Neil Diamond album?

  20. Tara
    February 4, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    Hi Teresa, I am listening to the Almost Live Podcast from February 3 with Kevin Nealon’s son and his toys in the background. The discussion about the baby’s toys reminded me of this website that my friend gave me. I have only listened to the samples, but these lullabies are much more parent-friendly. I hope you enjoy!

    http://rockabyebabymusic.com/

  21. Scout
    February 3, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    Please post more often. We all miss you!

  22. Mandy
    February 3, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    Appreciate your post, as usual. You give me courage to embark on motherhood (once husband is “ready”). xoxo

  23. Jose Eduardo
    February 3, 2010 at 6:14 am #

    omg, love you T!!! i just wanna say, im not a parent, nor am i planning to anytime soon but when i do, there will be no “classes” (especially anything that has to do with music) for my child, i cant stand all the singing and loudness and the happiness lol

    i love your blog, for a while there i thought we werent going to get any new posts…anyway, thank you for such a well written hilarious blog :D

    • Jose Eduardo
      February 3, 2010 at 6:17 am #

      lol, i meant…im not a parent, nor am i planning to become one anytime soon but when i do have kids….

      lol

  24. TPeee
    February 3, 2010 at 1:37 am #

    Love it!! My baby boy is just a little older then your baby boy. I understand the feeling that you must be involved in some kind of baby class or activity. If you don’t then how will your baby come out ok in the end?! Screw them!! They just want your money! Also it’s another way for other mothers to make them feel better about themself – like you are a better mom if you go to these crap classes?!

    You know what you’re doing girl!!! Screw the tummy time and just rock your Neil D!

  25. Matthew Dickey
    February 2, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    T – Relax, my wife did all the same crap with baby #1 and once #2 and #3 arrived all the special classes, events, and “learning” it was all for nothing – kids will be fine no matter what you do. do what works for you and try new things too. i don’t care how bad you think you’re doing – i’m sure you’re doing just fine and buster loves you and daddy. you’re a caring person and he’ll be a great kid – just get through each day and enjoy the nice parts of it.

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