Fuck Gymboree. I'd had my fill of the bacteria parachute that the children scamper under while the parents stand in a circle, holding the edges to create a giant forcefield of nastiness. I'd had enough of Creepy the Stuffed Clown who the poor, unlucky soul running the class had to actually speak through as if he was a real person, making the whole I'm-smiling-but-you-can-see-my-sad-sad-soul clown experience even weirder and more depressing. Fuck force-feeding my toddler some fake learning experience in the form of padded tunnels in jarringly bright primary colors that instead of awakening the mind, stuns it into catatonic submission.
I'd rather just sit on the floor and play blocks.
Ok. That's a lie.
Fine, I'll admit it. I wasn't quite ready to just completely give up on organized play with my kid. Come on. I live in the suburbs. I stay at home (at least part-time) with my kids. It's my job, my duty to embrace and expose my children to the ultimate useless, yuppie baby, headstart crap, right? I mean, what if I don't take a music class? Or a baby gymnastics class? J might never reach his full potential in life. And it will be all my fault.
I just know, in my heart of hearts, that given the opportunity to bang on a lollipop drum, shake some maracas and have some other toddler drool on him will give him that edge to really go for it in life.
Maybe Gymboree wasn't for us. Maybe a music class instead? I mean, he does like drums. He head bangs whenever any music comes on -- even Bob Marley. I can tell he really feels music. Yeah.
And off we went. We hit up a music class in an area near our home known for its zip code. You know. One of those keeping-up-with-the-Joneses places. They are filled, I mean filled, with yuppie baby nonsense. It's something like 764 places per square mile where you can sing, dance, do yoga, climb, and magic-o, presto emerge with a well-rounded 2-year-old that does backflips while simultaneously speaking French and Chinese.
Dropped M off at preschool and headed straight to the class. We arrived early. As in no one was even there yet except the teacher, who greeted us in standard kiddie-play-class lingo: "HIIIIIIYEEEEE! Good morning to the both of you. And who do we have heeeeere?"
J stood there, frozen. He'd never seen anyone so...excited. With him rendered utterly speechless, I was forced to do his dirty work. "Heellllo. I'm Jack." (In kiddie-play-class communications, it is always important never to use your own voice, but to always, always speak through the child.)
We sat down in the mirrored, padded room and J immediately went to work on the instruments. A few minutes ticked by. No kids yet. Holy shit. Were we the only ones in this nightmare? I could feel the teacher getting squeakier by the moment, her energy level directly proportional to how high her voice got. The higher and more manic the voice, the more fun we were having.
The class started with only the two of us, but within a few minutes a mom, two kids and nanny showed up. Thank GOD.
Then a couple more moms and kids showed up. I breathed a sigh of relief. Now we're talkin'.
And so we sang. And danced and leaped and twirled.
Or, rather, I should say I did all those things -- by myself. J ran around the room at full speed, occasionally throwing his body onto the padded floor and bursting out in giggles that I have to admit, were pretty contagious. No real interest in participating no matter how engaged I was. And let me tell you, I was mutha fuckin' engaged.
I kept glancing out of the corner of my eye, like every 1.16 seconds, hoping he would see just exactly how much fun I was having. Crazy fun. As in my eyes had bugged so far out of my head from singing (screaming) "Polly Put the Kettle On" I was afraid they might not go back. And I had a headache. Now that's crazy. Fun.
No dice. And there I was. Selling my soul to the devil and singing my heart out about frying up some imaginary egg while shaking my little egg shakers up and down, up and down, up and down. "Shake it to the left and shake it to the right!! Shake-a, shake-a-shake!!!"
I wasn't the only one either.
In an effort to engage us all, the teacher's singing and movements had become what can only be described as completely insane. Wild jumps and scary monster jazz hands that reminded me of what happens to cute little Gizmo if you feed him pizza after midnight. Plus,what toddler needs to hear a soulful, sexy growl in the middle of "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain? "She'll be-aaaaaa......coooooooomin' 'round the mountain when she comes..." Rrrrrrow.
Still, can't deny the efforts of someone who is is willing to jump out of her own skin to get little kids excited about music.
After what seemed like an eternity of shaking, twisting, running, yelling off tune and begging my toddler to please, please, please come to the circle only to be snubbed with a mocking cackle here and a condescending blow kiss there, it was time for class to end. We took it down a notch with a soothing round of bubble blowing (and bubble eating, if your name happens to be J). We bid each other adieu in song. J farted. Class was over.
Smashing success. Is there any doubt we're for sure coming back next week?