When Spenser was one, I decided it was time for him to go to a baby gym class.
I wanted to find a privately owned gym. I’m a big supporter of small business; I try to avoid big business when I can.
So, I googled kids’ gyms in my area and for some reason, only found two – both big corporate gyms. Why am I so bad at googling, sometimes? I knew there were more kids’ gyms in my neighborhood, but I couldn’t find them and somehow, didn’t have time to do the research. So I went to two sample classes of two big-name kids gyms.
The first place was a little depressing. Kind of run down. S wasn’t walking yet, but he was a speedy crawler. He liked crawling there but didn’t like any of the other “activities.” At circle time, they put a bunch of toys in the middle and let the baby toddlers fend for themselves. Babies were grabbing out of each other’s hands. I moved in to assist when a mom stopped me, “You can’t teach them not to grab at this age,” she said, “they are too young. Just let them be.” Boom. I was done. First of all, lady, don’t tell me what to do. I wasn’t anywhere near your child and second of all, if I want to say the word share to my one year old, I can. It wasn’t just that mom I didn’t like, the class didn’t excite me. I wanted to like it because it was near some good shopping, but I didn’t. The workers were really pushing me to sign up.
The second corporate kids gym was pretty hideous. I hated it. It was loud and bright and all of the workers talked in baby talk in high pitched voices and making lots of whoooop sounds, like a slide whistle. This place was an instant no, in my mind, even before class started. The teacher came out and I knew her… not literally, but I could tell you her story:
Early 30;s. Didn’t think she’d still be working here at this age and trying to be an actress, but can’t get an agent. She makes $14 an hour and if she has to make one more slide whistle whoooop she will have a breakdown, so she just shuts down. This job is killing her soul.
I should mention here, I used to work in a kids’ birthday party place. From age 18-21 I did children’s birthday parties and taught musical theater, creative movement and drama at The Magical Kingdom. I will regale you with the stories from those days, very soon. But until then, just know, I know the world of teaching little kids.
So, here we were at this kids gym and I couldn’t wait to get away from this teacher and her dead eyes. But Spenser LOVED it. He crawled up and down ramps and mats and slides for about 30 minutes straight. I felt so much pride, it was crazy. I wanted to weep. I wanted to say, “Hey, everyone, look at my baby!Look at how cute he is and what an amazing crawler he is!” Luckily, I didn’t. Luckily, I knew that I wasn’t the first woman to have a child who crawled. But, wow, I never would have thought I’d be one of those moms. I’d have to keep myself in check, like forever.
He loved the colors, he loved the music, he loved the colorful crap everywhere and my disdain for the place melted away (sort of.) He couldn’t tell that the teacher was just counting the seconds to be done – and he seemed to actually like the scary rag doll looking clown mascot.
Crap. We liked this hideous place. Crap I had to sign up. Shit, I’m paying money to a big corporate business. I was angry and yet happy.