I heard about this Gymboree place from a few other moms, and decided to look at their website and see what it’s all about. They offer a free class for you to try it out, so I thought – what the heck, and signed Marlo up for their Learn and Play 2 series for babes 6-10 months. I was really excited about it. All weekend it’s all I was looking forward to. Making things even better, Jeff surprised me by taking a half day and going with me. All I can say is that all three of us were fish out of water. Jeff was the only dad there, so I let him just sit aside and be the photographer. I was the only mom there that looked like I had showered that day – which I think immediately put me at a disadvantage. And Marlo… she was curious as usual, but just not all that enthused. We could’ve been at the grocery store for all she cared.
The class started and ended in song which was the first strike for me. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with singing to your child, in fact I do it quite a bit. For a week there, the only thing that could get Marlo to stop squirming so I could change her diaper was the ABC song. For a few days, it was Mary Had A Little Lamb, but the songs she likes the most are my own classic creations which are literal commentaries on our activities at the exact moment of the song. Usually they include lyrics about stinky poopy diapers, and Marlo really like the one yesterday about her being naked because she just got outta the bath, so don’t come in because she’s not decent. So, anyway, I’m all for singing songs just not with 12 other moms and babies in a circle. The whole time I was looking over my shoulder waiting for Barney to bust in. Not my style. And believe me, if it had appeared that Marlo was really getting a kick out of it – I would have sucked it up, learned the songs, and sang along. But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree my friends, she couldn’t have cared less about singing time.
She wanted to CRAWL.
And the open time we had to explore the equipment was the only time I felt comfortable, because it was essentially just the 3 of us at a playground. However, Marlo really didn’t get into all the equipment. She seemed to be enjoying herself the most when she was on flat ground with her new little ball. I don’t even think she liked all the other babies. She stared, sort of, for a short time, but didn’t exhibit any obvious interest in the other babies. They all liked her though! Maybe because she was the new girl in class. This one little baby, Ethan, was really cool. Very solid kid who just learned to walk, and he was always walking over to us. It was alright though, he wasn’t annoying so we hung out.
It wasn’t only the songs that made me quite squeamish. The whole time I couldn’t help but think of all the germs being exchanged. The little boy next to Marlo (the one making the squealing noises in the video) had a nasty cough and kept rubbing his ears (a classic ear infection sign). Then at the end they had this stupid puppet that “kissed” all the little babies goodbye and the only thing I could think is “when is the last time that thing was washed and you just rubbed on my baby’s face, thanks.”
I gotta get over it, right? I mean, babies get germs. That’s fine I guess. But I don’t want to pay for my baby to play in a cesspool of foreign germs. I’d rather Marlo share germs with all her cousins. At least I know their mothers wouldn’t bring them out to play with an ear infection. Part of the problem with this place is they push you to enroll your kid in a month’s worth of these “classes” (we got approached twice while we were there very obviously pressuring us to sign up for a month) that costs $65/mo. So if you’ve paid that much money, you’re likely gonna bring your poor kid to class even if he’s sick. Stupid.
I don’t want to come off as if I’m too cool for school here. I seriously wish I knew how to be the kind of preschool teacherish mom that could sing songs in a cheesy voice and goo goo ga ga without feeling like a complete fraud. I think Marlo, or any kid for that matter, deserves a mom that is a goof and a ton of fun, I guess I just gotta do it my own way. And the Gymboree way ain’t gonna cut it. I think she’ll like whatever I come up with. (At least that’s what I tell myself so I can sleep at night).
I won’t be bringing Marlo back to Gymboree anytime soon. I think it’s pointless for her at her age. I saw it as just an opportunity for bored stay-at-home moms to meet other bored stay-at-home moms. I’m not looking to meet any other bored stay-at-home moms, so I’ll save my money and play with Marlo at home. When she gets older and has language and could sing along to the songs, I can see bringing her back to see if she likes it then. But for now, we’ll spend that money on good food and new toys and keep the germs at bay.