My wife wanted to sign up our son for Gymboree Play & Music classes because, as she put it, “Why is one of my mommy friend’s children walking at the same age as our son?”
Oh, God, here we go.
The NYC parent competition thing that I’ve heard so much about. I said to her, “I have two words for you: ‘Who cares!’ He will walk when he is ready.”
Nonetheless, there I was at Gymboree – my first introduction to parenting hell. I was taken aback, however, by how cute the woman was at the front desk. This might not be so bad after all.
Then she showed me where I could park my stroller. Yes. Park. Really? People say “park your stroller”?
Then I had to take off my shoes so I didn’t track in any contaminants. What is this: a high-safety ward at NYU Langone Medical Center? Oh well, at least I wore socks without holes.
I carried my son over the childproof fence and stepped into what looked like a padded psych ward designed by Dr. Seuss. But my son was all smiles, cooing and pupils as wide as a snowboarder arriving at the mountain to find two feet of fresh powder. Pure heavenly bliss.
Another attractive woman came over, gently singing for all of us baby-toting adults to gather in a circle. Her singing confused me. At first, I thought she was just goofing around, but then I realized that singing is all she does. Did I miss something? The wife didn’t mention I was going to an off-Broadway musical.
Then things changed. I saw the climbing obstacles. These are great. Who wouldn’t enjoy crawling under and over something soft and padded? Now I know why obstacle course races have become so popular with adults.
Each obstacle works out the baby’s balance and encourages walking. Then comes the picking up of foam shapes to “mingle” with the other babies. Most of the time, all kids do is put the foam shapes in their mouths and babble at each other, which is pretty funny. Even witnessed some hair-pulling, but it’s all good clean fun. For the most part, though, this is not the place you want to be if you’re hungover after watching a Seahawks nail-biting win.
One of my son’s favorite Gymboree obstacles was the long inflatable log that all the babies sat on top of with the parents holding the kid by the waist to work out their child’s balance and hips. Everyone stood behind their baby but I didn’t pay attention and sat in front of mine. He loved it, laughing hysterically with every bounce. I could feel that my smile was so big.
For that brief moment, I didn’t think about being the only dude in class. I didn’t care that my life had come to this. I was having fun watching my son have fun. I am a papa, a father, a dad.
I must have been beaming with joy because I felt someone staring at me. When I looked up two of the moms were looking at me. I couldn’t figure out why they were looking at me. “Yeah, baby. These chicks are checking me out. I still got game,” I thought.
After a Gymbo the Clown appearance, the songs wound down and the mothers gossiped one last time. I went over to put my son back in his stroller and put on my shoes. That’s when I noticed.
The zip fly in my jeans was wide open.
Those Gymboree moms were not checking me out after all. I was the idiot who almost let the horse out of the barn.