When the boys got to around 18 months the idea of trying to entertain them every day out of my own imagination became scarier than regularly leaving the house with two children who may or may not want to go out. The women in my mothers’ group had mostly introduced their children to classes earlier, mainly swimming lessons on weekends so the dads could do the lesson and the mums could chat - something you just can't do with twins.
As it was approaching winter we decided to skip the swimming lessons, but enrolled them in three classes anyway: Music on Mondays, Gym on Saturdays and a Japanese Right-Brain Training Class on Thursdays. Due to Peter's work schedule including only two mornings, he was going to be able to attend so at least I was not outnumbered.
The first class was Music. I had no idea what to expect. The boys were walking, but not talking nor did they seem to possess the ability to play an instrument. I will admit the first class did not go well. Carl's social phobia set in and even though there were only about six adults and seven children. Whenever the adults stood up to do a dance, he would start crying. We would just take him to the side of the room and sit with him until the dance was over and then rejoin the group.
Nolan was the bigger issue. Nolan loved getting instruments to play or objects to use to keep the beat for songs. What he didn't like was giving things back when we finished a song. He also didn't like me telling him that he was holding his triangle 'wrong' by holding onto the main part and hitting it with another triangle. But the teacher was amazing; she kept calm and took the time to explain to him that he could have something new if he gave things back. She also explained to us that his wandering around the room was normal and if we just kept doing the class he would come back, and he did. A strategy I still use when he won't focus even now he is 3.
With my high school teaching background I felt that if we were doing a 'class' my boys had to sit still and follow instructions. But they were 18 months old and people shouldn't expect that from 18 month olds (some teachers do, but that is a story for another blog.)
By the second week Nolan was “putting away” in order to find out what he got to use next; I was learning to stay calm, give him time to explore the room if he needed to and know that he would come back, though after a few weeks he did start adopting himself out to other parents or the teacher during class because that's the sort of kid he is.
We have continued music now for over a year and the boys have shown great skills at following instructions and remembered actions that go along with pieces of music.
We had an end of year concert and the boys took the opportunity to remind us that they are definitely individuals. Carl got stage fright as soon as he saw the audience on entering the room (not even waiting to get on stage) and Nolan stood centre stage and performed his little heart out. When we finished Peter summed it up by saying: "For Carl the nightmare is over, for Nolan the dream has just begun."