I got to attend class today with our three-year old. My husband and I signed her up for a variety pack class through our local parks and recreation department back in December. The class has two sessions each on cooking, gardening, art, exercise and nature. My husband's original idea was to add some structure to her non-preschool days with him but when he was talking about the class I said wait, wait. I want to go too. So we scheduled her for Fridays, even though that means being late to preschool for the next 10 weeks, because I have a flexible work schedule that gives me every other Friday off, most of the time. I made arrangements with my boss to use some vacation time to cover the rest of the missed work time. And off we went this morning for our first class.
This is a big deal for me for several reasons. First, I love classes. I love going to school. In my daydreams about what I would do if I didn't work I almost always see myself going back to school in something, or at least taking different classes. Yes, I know I am a total nerd, but I'm comfortable with that. I get a lot of fun out of learning. And I really like actually going to class, actually being there in person. I've taken some online classes but it's just not as much fun. I get the content but not the experience. I like talking to people. I like the synergy that happens when several people get together and have a conversation - even when those people are preschoolers and we're talking about how often we've been sick this winter.
Second, I often feel that I miss out on some of the special things that my husband and daughter do together. They take field trips to the museum and the aquarium; they hit story hour at the library; they even have an ice skating date next week with friends so our daughter can try ice skating for the first time. All of this takes place while I work, and sometimes I end up feeling just a little bit jealous. Not a lot, and I'm glad that my husband can stay home with my daughter and that they have an awesome relationship, but just a little bit sad and envious that I don't get to play. I've learned that most preschool oriented classes take place on weekday mornings. This makes perfect sense, given the natural rhythms of 3 and 4 year olds. Mornings around our house are when our daughter is at her most cheerful and cooperative and most open to new experiences. It's just a little hard on working parents, since we don't get to share the fun.
Third, and more philosophically, is that taking this class with our daughter is part of something that I am trying to tell myself recently. I'm reminding myself to live now. Don't wait until my schedule is calm to do things I'm interested in. Don't wait for perfect moments. Instead choose something interesting and make it happen. Find the time, find the energy and go do it now. I can't do everything I'm interested in all at once, but if my stance is consistently to do something, then over time I can do quite a lot. So this season I'm taking a class with my daughter on Friday mornings. Maybe in the spring my husband and I can take a dance class together. Season by season, we can have quite a bit of fun together as a family and probably even learn some things too.
So we went to our variety class this morning. The nature segment of class comes first, apparently. The theme today was owls. The teacher told us all something about owls - that there are 200 species. She mentioned that most owls eat mice and insects but that some eat fish, to which my daughter said "that's disgusting!" We glued paper together to make a barn owl and added feathers and googly eyes. The teacher read an owl story and then we ended class by dancing around pretending to be various animals. I noticed the other parents (including my husband) didn't seem quite so into the class, but I had a lot of fun. Perhaps I am just a goofy big kid in an over-30 body. (Well, okay - more than perhaps. That's almost certainly true.) Or perhaps I was just savoring the occasion, the chance to play and to learn and to live a little with the people I love the best.