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Toddler Group Angst

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Jennifer Ginsberg: My daughter Kiana's weekly toddler group is a hotbed of maternal angst. For the first half hour, the facilitator leads a discussion with the moms while the children play. The overarching theme is Let Us Count The Ways In Which We Are F&*#ing Up Our Children.

Kids reading book at school

After we are thoroughly berated for being worthless and inept mothers, we are expected to enthusiastically jump to our feet for the "song and dance" portion of the class. Despite years of practice, I find it impossible to do the Chicken Dance with my child without feeling like a complete and total dumbsh*t.

Whether we are exposing our children to radiation from our computer screens or allowing our babies to drink from sippy cups made with cancer causing materials, there are many reasons for modern moms to live in a constant and pervasive state of anxiety.

Unfortunately, singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" does nothing to mitigate my angst, it only makes me long all the more for a double shot of vodka with some foamy nonfat Xanax on top.

Last week the topic was Toddler First Aid and Emergencies. First, we were given a handout listing all the possible dangers lurking inside of our homes. Some of the things to become hysterical about include:
-Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters
-Deadly Bee Sting Allergies
-The Ingestion of Poisonous Plants and Chemicals
-Household Accidents

When we got to the last bullet point, the facilitator paused and gave us a cryptic stare.

"How do you know if your child has concussed?" she rhetorically asked us, in a menacing tone.

Concussed? I don't even know what the f*&% that means, let alone how to determine if this has happened to my child! I normally have quick and snappy retorts but for once I was struck silent.

The leader continued, "Is your child stumbling around, discombobulated, talking rubbish, or passing out? If so, you should be very concerned."

Stumbling around? Discombobulated? Talking Rubbish? That describes Kiana on a good day!

She then passed out forms for a Toddler Hearing Test, which would be taking place the following week during our group. "It is imperative that your child has a hearing test at this stage of their development. Hearing problems are severe and can progress rapidly. Do not assume that your child is OK."

I'm sorry, but this is where I draw the line. There is nothing wrong with Kiana's hearing.

On the contrary, she seems to have super bionic hearing. Every morning I tiptoe into the kitchen to make my coffee, praying I don't awaken her so I can have my first blessed cup in peace. As soon as I place the filter in the pot, Kiana shrieks, "MOMMY OUT!" from her crib, which is in her room. On the other side of the house. Behind a closed door.

If there was something I could do to decrease her hearing, I would be all for it!

As the forms were being passed around the room, I surprised myself by not caving in to the peer pressure and taking one. The facilitator gave me a disapproving look and I could have sworn I heard her mutter "Tsk-tsk!"

Perhaps I am being remiss, neglectful, and ignorant. But Angst Mom doesn't need any more fuel for her Anxiety Flame. I knew this Hearing Test was just another potential pit of angst, waiting to ensnare me. I was not going to succumb this time.

After the group, one of the moms approached me and said, "I didn't take a form either. Last year I did the hearing test for my son. Afterward they told me he was basically deaf!!! I immediately made an appointment with a pediatric hearing specialist who ordered all these scans. Several hundred dollars later, I was told that he was absolutely fine. He just had a cold on the day of the hearing test!"

Angst Mom is vindicated once again!

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13 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley April 3, 2009, 8:05 AM

If you don’t like the group, DON’T GO!!! Find a different, less stressful group, plain and simple!! Unless you’ve paid for it or something then you shouldn’t go do something that’s meant to be fun for you and your kid but only causes you anxiety. Like having a toddler doesn’t already make you need a cocktail with a Xanax chaser!!

maeby April 3, 2009, 9:07 AM

Where do you even FIND these groups? I live in a good child friendly city but i cant ever seem to find a group. Where do you look?

Anonymous April 3, 2009, 12:28 PM

Don’t go and quit complaining!

Katharine April 3, 2009, 1:19 PM

I think some of the posters are missing the spirit of this piece! I did not come away with the impression that the writer is complaining at all. My sense is that her style is to use sarcasm and exaggeration to make her point about how crazy life can get when living in the world of anxiety-prone modern moms. I thought it was hilarious and topical, and I bet there are plenty of moms out there who can relate to this kind of experience. I loved it!

elanit  April 3, 2009, 1:49 PM

These groups can be great for our kids but I often feel like it’s a place where I can spend a lot of time second guessing myself. Perhaps it’s the new mother in me but I would suspect we all do the comparing. I appreciate your honesty so much. It makes me feel like I’m not alone in what at times feels like such an isolating experience.

mary April 3, 2009, 4:03 PM

This is a great article. You’ve have this unique ability to express what I (and so many moms I know) feel at toddler groups - yet find it difficult to outwardly express without being told to “find a different group”. We go to these groups, as moms, because it’s best for our kids - even if they do cause us angst.

One request - next time can define concussed! Thanks!

Anonymous April 3, 2009, 6:16 PM

Maeby: Try The Mommies Network for groups in your area. Google it.

Anonymous April 3, 2009, 6:35 PM

I spend my life wondering if I am missing something with my kids- concussed would be the easiest thing to id! Thanks for a funny look at what all of us go through (though not all may want to admit it).

Heather Burt April 4, 2009, 12:54 PM

Totally appreciate this article and love the way it is written! I worry enough, yet every day I am faced with things that I never even knew I should be worrying about…so I add them to my list!

Tabitha April 4, 2009, 3:58 PM

It really is true that moms now days have to worry about and be capable of handling every situation. I can’t imagine how stressful this must be.

Jen April 4, 2009, 6:17 PM

I think these “groups” are pointless and just make parents feel inferior. Moms put a lot of extra stress on themselves that they don’t need then complain about it. Life is too short to be around people that irritate you. What happened to just taking your kid to the park?

messymom April 4, 2009, 10:21 PM

Just because its not all bliss I don’t leave things either so I don’t like the “just don’t go” comments. Anyway I totally get you angstmom and love your bluntness and realness

meg April 23, 2009, 3:08 PM

that was funny my kid has super bionic hearing too

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