Singing and Moving with Vienna Locals

Shortly after Elliott was born, Will and I watched an episode of a comedy show in which a couple take their 8 month old to a play group. In the scene are moms sitting in a circle with their babies, clapping and singing and playing with toys. The room is colorful and the teacher is incapable of not smiling as big the Cheshire Cat as she floats from baby to baby, complementing each one on his or her block-stacking skills. I recall thinking – and may have also vocalized – No. way. as Will and I observed this type of baby socialization. Lots of moms together in a single play room for a specific amount of time with a teacher who’s paid to sing nonsensical songs and be overly giddy about every baby’s “accomplishment”? Sounds like too much estrogen to me.

Elliott has now attended 2 of his 10 play group gatherings, l-o-v-e-s it, and I’m still alive to write about it. Surprisingly there is a good mix of moms and dads who bring their babies to the group, so my fear of a mom fight over whose baby stole whose fuzzy ball has significantly diminished. They’re a good crew. Not so surprisingly, I’m the youngest mom and Elliott is the youngest toddler baby. Many couples in Austria wait to have babies much later in life compared to couples in the States. While American women start their families around age 25, Austrian women, on average, start theirs around age 28. Based on observation alone, I’d guess I’m about 4 to 5 years younger than the next youngest mom in the group. I don’t mind so much since I was expecting it to turn out this way, but I do think some of the older women aren’t too sure what to do with me. Thankfully Elliott is a great icebreaker.

Ready to do some serious singing and moving.
Ready to do some serious singing and moving.

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Here’s what our Austrian play group, or more specifically, our Singen-Bewegen Gruppe which means Sing & Move Group, is like. First, Elliott and I circle up with the other babies’ parents to sing (the TV show was right!) the “Begrüssungslied” (Welcome Song) to each other. So far Elliott has gotten to start off the song for everyone which I think he enjoys since we sing his name:

Hallo Elliott, hallo Elliott,

Wir winken Dir zu!

Hallo Elliott,

Zuerst ich und dann Du!

Catchy.

We sing a few other songs that I’m still trying to learn then it’s 45 minutes of play time. Our group meets together in a huge studio so the little people are definitely not lacking in room to move. Elliott’s teacher, Doris, gets out baskets filled with a variety of colored and oddly textured balls and dumps them all over the studio as a way to signal the babies that it’s time to play. Elliott goes berserk when this happens and both times has crawled away from the circle so fast that I’ve been left sitting alone with the parents whose kids aren’t as “BAAAHHHHH BALLS!!!!!!!!” as mine. Elliott determines our activities for the duration of play time and I follow along, occasionally pausing to peel him off some other parent he’s decided to introduce himself to at eye level.

Blue spiky ball...
Blue spiky ball…

Elliott’s personal favorite activity is swimming in the ball pit. We’ll spend, oh, easily 20 minutes in that thing. Other kids join him here and there, get bored, and move on to something else. Not Elliott. He is all about that ball pit. And for the few minutes he wasn’t, he was speed crawling back and forth through a green tunnel. He finally discovered the pillow corner and seemed to enjoy it, but… that ball pit though.

BALL PIT.
BALL PIT.

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So happy.
So happy.
He was so embarrassed of me in this moment.
He was so embarrassed of me in this moment.

When the 45 minutes are up, we clean the room and circle up for our “Abschlusslied” (Goodbye Song):

Alle Leut, alle Leut,

Gehen jetzt nach Haus!

Große Leut, kleine Leut, dicke Leut, dünne Leut,

Alle Leut, alle Leut,

Gehen jetzt nach Haus!

Sagen Auf Wiedersehen,

Heut was es wunderschön!

Alle Leut, alle Leut,

Gehen jetzt nach Haus!

Baba!

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If you’re…

  • an expat looking to get to know Vienna locals
  • wanting to improve your German
  • looking for ways to exhaust your kid
  • searching for mom friends
  • dreaming of what it’s like to have 3 hours to yourself while your child is conked out in the crib
  • wanting your baby/toddler to make baby/toddler friends
  • going crazy in your house and need to get out

then I highly recommend joining a group like this one. It’s good for your kid, and it’s good for you. If you’re a resident in the 22nd district, then check out Doris’ programs. She’s awesome.

Kinderspielzeit

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