There are many reasons to love Open Gym. It's open year round; making it a great indoor alternative for the super cold or super hot days. It's close to our house. It's only $5 and if you go 10 times, you get a free time. But most importantly, it fits perfectly within the time that Super Preschooler is at Preschool, thus allowing me to just focus my attention on 1 child as she bobs and weaves all over the cavernous gymnasium. It is pretty much the ideal activity for Monday morning, and yet I do NOT love Open Gym.
I blame it on the rules. I never really liked rules and there are a ton here. Clearly, there are posted rules for any child partaking in Open Gym and those are pretty obvious:
1. No shoes.
2. No food and drink.
3. One child on the trampoline at a time.
4. Higher level balance beams are off-limits.
5. Always be within arms-reach of your child at all times.
Now, I have no major issues with these rules. They are reasonable. They are sound and doable, with the exception of #5. Have you ever tried to stay within arms-reach of a toddler? Unless you are a Olympic sprinter, that one is a little hard, but I get the premise behind it. No, I don't have issues with the posted rules. I have issues with the unspoken rules that seem to govern happenings here at Open Gym. They aren't posted, but they are equally clear:
1. If you are a Mom, please come dressed in skinny jeans or skin-tight yoga pants, a clinging, attractive top, your best infinity scarf, and adorable socks. Make-up, jewelry, and iPhone are a must. That you have the body to wear such things goes without saying, and please make sure to give haughty looks, with barely concealed contempt, to the moms who did not show up in the required uniform.
2. If you are a Dad, it is like the park. No sartorial rules for you. You are a Dad; the fact that you are on an outing with your child is going to cause torrents of praise and admiration from the surrounding moms. You can do no wrong. Go ahead and wear that "Beer is the Answer, what was the Question?" t-shirt and a pair of Jorts. Revel in your Dadness.
3. If you are a pregnant Mom, please show up only if you are Hollywood pregnant, with a huge baby bump and a tiny everything else. Awkward-looking pregnant moms in huge sweatshirts, who seem to be only growing children in their thighs and face are not welcome and will be pointedly stared at or ignored altogether in the hopes that they go away and never come back.
4. Do NOT talk to anyone that you didn't come with, even if your child has been playing with another woman's child and it is starting to get weird that the two of you are just standing there and she is giving you hopeful looks every few seconds. Just stare at her stonily. She looks awkward anyway.
5. If your child is in any way sorta talented in gymnastics or even aware of gymnastics at all, make sure to force her to do "tables," "somersaults," and "handstands" in the middle of the gym. Loudly shout out all the gymnastics terms you know and act fake-modest when other parents congratulate you on your child's skill. This, and the pink and sparkled unitard you shoved her into, will ably prepare the both of you for Tokyo 2020.
6. When encountering toddlers of average size make sure to loudly announce to your, clearly large for her age, toddler to "watch the baby!" and "look out for the smaller girl next to you" and "be nice to that little girl, she is smaller than you and doesn't know how to act yet." Continue to do this even after the small toddler's mother assures you that your children are the same age and the small toddler does indeed know how to act.
7. If you have any background in gymnastics, by all means, show it off by doing tricks on the trampoline with your child. You don't look like you are desperately trying to attract attention at all. You haven't lost it one bit.
8. Take tons of pictures of your child and act highly annoyed if other children walk into the frame. Who cares that they are all under the age of 4, they should know how important it is for you and your darling toddler to make memories together.
9. Monopolize the trampoline (or rings or any other popular apparatus) and pay no attention to the line of children waiting for it. If questioned on this matter, smile and say, "Oh, Perfect Toddler is just so good at it, let's give him a little longer, shall we?" Sharing is overrated.
10. If a toddler's mother is clearly within sight of her child (and actually blocked from said child by you and your child's hoggy ways with the balance beam), but not the required "arms-length" distance from her, make sure to fake lunge every time that toddler looks like she might fall. Take large intakes of gaspy breath and do everything possible to make said mother feel guilty and negligent. Except actually move and let her near her child, of course.
11. Loudly announce everything your child is doing in a clear, slightly sing-song voice. For example, "Oh, Little Toddler, are you climbing the ramp?" "Are you playing with the Hula-Hoop?" "Are you going to bounce?" "Are you going to adorably and perfectly spin in the center of the room and knock over 3 other kids?" "Are you gonna try to bite that little girl?" "Are you standing there, looking around?" "Are you picking your nose and wiping it on the mat?" This is not annoying to other moms in the least and totally shows your superior involvement and focus on your child.
12. Stay on your iPhone most of the time you are there. Naturally.
Readers, I want to love the Open Gym. I really really do, but I am having trouble following all the rules! But, I will try again next week because it makes Super Toddler happy:
Let's be real here: I would probably walk through parts of hell for that smile.
And Open Gym is certainly in the running for one of the outer circles.....