Throwing around the idea of a baby gym class for your little sprout? Look no further, for I am a baby gym class aficionado. Gymboree, My Gym, Tumbling Toddlers, Tiny Twisters, Mommy & Me Playball…I’ve done it all, people. Might I offer you some tips?
1. Upon entering the establishment, you will no longer be addressed by your first name. “[Your child]‘s mommy” will be your appointed moniker, whether you like it or not. Feel free to find yourself in a deep and meaningful conversation with a new confidante, only to walk away and realize you have no idea what in the hell that person’s real name is. Thank you for your poignant thoughts on postpartum depression, Aidan’s mommy.
2. The colorful ball pit. Your child will kick, flop, smile, burp, lick, drool and bury themselves in those balls, gleefully grinning the entire time. That ball pit happens to harbor 96% of the world’s viruses. Enjoy.
3. Speaking of viruses, be aware of the child who seems to be suffering from the Bubonic Plague in your class. That feverish, snot-encrusted child will try to french kiss your toddler the entire hour, while their absolutely clueless parent sends texts in the corner.
4. If possible, try to turn off your olfactory senses. Most children’s gym classes have a distinct scent – what I would describe as an enchanted, heady blend of sweat socks, corn chips and Febreze. In fact, very similar to the smell of a fast food chain indoor playground (minus the notes of fry grease and stomach bile).
5. You will find it relatively easy to strike up a conversation with most of the adults (I mean, come on, you all have children in a similar age range), but there will always be one parent who isn’t interested in talking/looking/smiling at you. For whatever reason, that parent hates you with the white-hot fury of a thousand suns. Your child will ALWAYS gravitate towards the vicinity of that person. Possibly even wanting to play with them and/or their child. Awkward.
6. If your particular class likes to break up the monotony of Dan Zanes Muzak, you might experience the privilege of listening to some “contemporary” tunes. Just this morning I stretched my little one’s legs to the sweet beat of “Fresh” by Kool and the Gang, followed by some rhythmic tumbling to “Crazy For You” by Madonna. I ask you, children’s fitness center or roller rink in 1986? Shoot the duck!
7. You will devote your entire being to protecting your child from harm while climbing and toddling around the gym. However, the ONE TIME you turn your back to engage in a relevant discussion with another parent or bend over to adjust your mandatory sock, your child will fall headfirst off the tumbling equipment. And you will look like a total dick.
8. Despite it all, you will continue to frequent these places because your sweet baby loves it. Damn it all to hell.