Known Johnson

January 7, 2007

A semester of the Little Gym

Filed under: General — Tom @ 2:26 pm

One of the odd things I’ve noticed about going the Little Gym is that, while we go there every week, we don’t know anyone in the class. And neither does anyone else. It must be a strange fact of raising a child this age that your world is pretty centered entirely around her and everything else around her is just a blur because I have seen few others with children this age reaching out to anyone else. My thought was, before we began attending these classes every week, that it would be the kind of place where the kids would go do their thing and the parents would have a bit of a breather, but it’s the exact opposite: the parents seem to spend most of their time trying to get the kids to do whatever tasks are on the menu of the day, and the kids just want to play. There’s no time for interaction of any type.

That said, having gone there for something like 18 weeks or so, we’ve noticed a couple of interesting “characters” in class. The kids, for the most part, are all good – kids this age really are all good. It’s the parents who are the odd, weird, sometimes disturbing ones. I’ll leave out names to protect the possibly innocent.

The first couple is a completely mismatched pair. You know how most couples just seem to somehow look right together? Not these two. He is late 30s, early 40s, a big, burly, Italian-lookin’ type – giant stomach, balding, dark-skinned, intimidating. She is early 30s, sandy blonde, fragile, the kind of woman that looks like she really likes candle stores. And I see absolutely no interaction between the two – you’d never guess the two were married, let alone neighbors. And yet she’s pregnant, seemingly eternally pregnant because it feels like she’s been about 7 months pregnant since we started attending these classes back in September. I maintain that their daughter is closer to 3 years old than the maximum age for this class, which is 19 months or so (and I realize that quite a few kids in this class are older than this and are probably waiting until this semester is over to move to the next one.) She’s a cute kid, to be sure, but she is obviously older – not only does she look much, much older, but I frequently hear her parents ask her what color something is and she’ll yell out, loud and clear, “Blue!” “Yellow!” “Green!” I’ve heard little out of a kid at the ages of most of these kids that amounts to more than “buba-buba” when the teacher brings out the bubbles at the end. I’m telling you – 3 years old, and these parents are those types that like to keep their kid behind because it makes her look so superior. But that’s not all, no, it’s not enough that she’s obviously way older, but when they encounter another child in class, the father will always say to his daughter, “Watch out for the baby” and “baby” always comes out in a condescending tone. Always. It was one of the first things we noticed about this family. And the glares. The wife always stares with some kind of nasty judgmental gleam in her eye. I don’t know what she’s thinking or why, but, hey, I’m not the one with the way-too-old kid in the baby’s class.

And then there’s the father who seems to be obsessed with Mardi Gras. His daughter is a jovial, gangly little girl who looks like she’s going to be about 6′ 10″ when she grows up. For whatever reason, he calls her “Sister,” and does so so often that I don’t even know what her real name is. Given the chance, she pulls up her shirt neck-high to anyone who happens to be nearby. This happens every class, and every single time this happens, he says something along the lines of, “This isn’t Mardi Gras, Sister, put your shirt down!” It sends shivers up my spine. Creepy.

And then there’s the mother who dresses her little girl in what appears to be period clothing. I’m not sure if, when she comes to class, she travels through a time tunnel, but it seems as if the two of them are coming out of about 1910 or so, or perhaps they live in some unknown Amish territory on the outskirts of town. Strangely, mom, who appears to be single, often arrived in attire completely inappropriate for any kind of physical activity – short dresses with low-cut tops were frequent when the weather was warmer – but I got a real kick when they came to class with a man in tow who I can only assume was either the daughter’s father or mom’s boyfriend, and mom’s clothing was drastically different that day. Most of the time, mom spends class showing moves to her daughter on the various child-sized pieces of gym equipment and then looking around to see if anyone noticed. Yesterday she brought a weird friend/relative to class who decided to take the “gym” in Little Gym seriously and practiced yoga and other workout moves, such as rolling around on one of the little balls the kids play with (and I mean little – a 12″ ball.) We’re kind of hoping she doesn’t show up the next time.

There’s always an assortment of parents with cameras who spend more time behind the camera than watching out for anyone else, sometimes even getting in the way of other kids. Cameras, surprisingly, are actually allowed in class, and if you could see how these people acted with them, you’d be surprised too because it gets kind of dangerous when a parent would rather get a shot dialed out right than move to keep your kid from getting hurt. And that’s the amazing thing I see time and time again – a stunning lack of care for other people. Children are amazingly resilient but that doesn’t mean that we can and should allow them to go stumbling over each other and us. Accidents happen, but accidents due to being stupid are inexcusable. Just like drivers blindly changing lanes, backing up without looking, or just generally disobeying common traffic laws, people need to look around and pay attention. What gets tiring week after week is just watching people stumble over the children we’re supposedly in class for their betterment. It’s not the kids who need the most attention. It’s the parents that could use the most training.


1 Comment »

  1. “This isn’t Mardi Gras, Sister, put your shirt down!”

    That’s not creepy, it’s hilarious. That’s something that you’d hear around here.

    It’s weird that he calls her “Sister,” but is it maybe because she’s got an older or a younger sibling who refers to her as Sister? I’ve babysat some kids with weird nicknames before that everyone called them because of a brother or a sister not being able to say their name. I knew a girl everyone in her family called EB (like “eee bee”) because her younger brother wasn’t able to pronounce her real name (sounded nothing like EB) and it just stuck. Strange, but just a family thing.

    What I don’t like is when I hear people call their little daughters (babies) “Little Mama.” This does not make sense to me. I’m a little mama, my daughter shall not be a little mama until she bears a child.

    Comment by Bekah — January 11, 2007 @ 1:31 pm | Reply

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