I signed little R up for Mandarin classes today: she will be taking twice-weekly classes for 1.5 hours a time. She also is enrolled in weekly baby swim classes. (I was considering a music class as well, but decided that three separate classes was definitely overboard.)
All of this is pretty silly, considering that little R is only 11 months old and is nowhere close to talking, even in English. I feel sort of sheepish about it, like I have turned into one of those parents I used to make fun of, trying to cram my child full of "enrichment" (usually with the goal of getting them into Harvard).
So why am I doing it? Of course my reasons are basically selfish, like almost all other parenting decisions. For the swim classes, I want little R to be comfortable in the water, so that her chances of drowning (one of the leading causes of death for small children) will be reduced. Unfortunately, I hate swimming and the water. Signing her up for classes is a way to force myself to spend (a little bit of) time in the water with her. So basically she's in swim classes because I'm undisciplined. (She does love the water though!)
She's in Mandarin classes partly for the same reason. B and I both really want her to learn Mandarin; we should speak it at home, but due to laziness my language skills have deteriorated so much that this isn't a good option anymore. By attending her classes, little R gets exposure to the language. As a side benefit, I am forced to speak Mandarin too (because the classes are Mandarin-only), which hopefully will impel me to start studying again.
I also like taking her to classes because 1. they make her tired from all the excitement and stimulation, so she is much better behaved at home (and her naps are longer!); 2. we both get out of the house (I get really bored at home all day, and now that little R is older, so does she); and 3. she gets to meet other children.
I thought she wouldn't be interested in other babies/toddlers until she was quite a bit older, but she is a little social butterfly. She loves interacting with other children, and is not at all shy (she is usually the one to approach them first, actually); this is surprising as both B and I are pretty introverted. Maybe it's a phase? (I hope not, though, because life is so much easier for the outgoing and self-confident.)
Taking her to the classes (and other little R-focused activities, like playdates and mothers' groups and baby gyms) makes me wonder how other mothers do it without these activities. If we just stay home all day, little R becomes naughty (the saying about idle hands and all) and gets into everything. She also destroys the house (since she has more time to do so) so that it looks like a cyclone, full of broken objects strewn everywhere (in the last week, she broke two statues, the camera (=why no photos lately), several books and a plate). Keeping her busy in some other environment means we are both happier. Maybe other people's children are less active/enterprising at destruction?