I ended up taking my grandson to his music and movement activity class on Monday as his mummy was not feeling well. We pushed open the door and walked in and I felt his little chubby arms grasp my leg and give a little squeeze. The ladies who take the class welcomed him in and showed me which cushion he usually liked to sit on. Other toddlers arrived and took their places and little by little he ventured a little further away from me, to investigate a plug socket or knock on the glass panel of a door. A stray plastic ball had rolled into the corner which needed to be collected and soon it was time for the class to begin. They start with a song which includes everyone's name, 'hello xxx, hello xxx, hello xxx, we're glad that you are here'. On the whole he joined in, and whilst he wasn't one for steadfastly sitting on my lap and refusing to join in anything on his own, he equally wasn't the first child in the centre of the room, choosing his instrument or marching to the music. I'd say that after the first 5 minutes he was cautiously confident.
A week previously I had experienced something similar myself. In an effort to keep fit (get fit?) I had found an exercise class called Zumba Gold which seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. Fun dancing and aimed at 'the 50s and over' - well I certainly fit that criteria! Coincidentally it was held in the same venue as the Tiny Tempo class I went to, but a different hall. I opened the door, everyone else was standing around in groups of two or three, chatting and laughing. I'm sure everyone didn't turn round and look at me as I walked in, but it felt a bit like they might have! If I'd been 58 years younger, I'd probably been looking around for someone's leg to cling onto as I walked towards the instructor. She made me feel incredibly welcome and explained about the class and I quickly sneaked to the back of the room to put down my water bottle and bag. I cautiously joined the end of the back row and waited for the music to start.
It was such fun and although clearly everyone else there knew each other, smiles and goodbyes were exchanged at the end of the class and I knew I would return. This week, I recognised a face in the crowd and we shared a quick conversation about living close to one another and half way through, the lady standing next to me introduced herself and asked if I was enjoying it. And I kept thinking that this must be exactly how our little boy feels when he is suddenly put in a group of new people, we encourage him to smile and join in even when it would be much easier to keep on your own in the corner.
Taking that first step in something new, it can be a bit daunting, but we are big and brave and we aren't going to let it stop us joining in and having fun!