The hidden rules of the children’s gym

by Ginger on December 6, 2010

in Mom Thoughts

Yesterday, we took Jackson to a Gymboree class for the first time. I had a smokin deal from Groupon that was about to expire (procrastination FTW!), so we finally put it to use.

Jackson had an amazing time, of course–climbing, running, rolling, dancing, laughing, squealing. He had a great time, and wore himself basically into the ground. I can’t wait to take him back again.

But  N.C. and I must have missed some rules–either for first timers or for everyone– that were posted somewhere that all the other parents knew about, because we kept finding ourselves doing things that *must* have been wrong. Lest you find yourself in a similar situation, I thought I’d share what we figured must be the hidden rules*.

  1. Do not speak directly to the other parents, unless it’s to warn them of immediate danger to their child.
  2. Do not look other parents in the eye–keep your sight line knee level or below.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, ask a direct question that might be seen as an “ice breaker” to another parent while class is going on.
  4. In fact, just don’t acknowledge anyone over the age of 2 in the room, with the exception of the teacher of the class. It’ll just make it easier to keep all the other rules unbroken.

*The parents were all very nice, but it was very clear it was not a place to meet other parents, just a place for your kid to burn off some energy. Maybe it was just the class we went to, or the location we were at. But it won'[t keep us from going back, Jackson had such an amazing time.

As always, you can find more lists every Monday over at ABDPBT!


Perpetua December 6, 2010 at 2:37 am

It was EXACTLY like this when we went to Gymboree! Only what made it worse was that some of the parents were already friends (I think they lived in the same neighborhood), so they made it clear that they were NOT accepting applications for new friends.

I had no idea it would be like that. Glad to hear it wasn’t just my kid’s gym!

Patrick December 6, 2010 at 10:18 am

Whew….. I thought Am and I got that treatment because we were black. tt was just that the other parents were impersonal a$$holes. Yeah we did the discount at Gymboree too and it was fun for Miles but rather uncomfortable for us. You also forgot one rule. The one where you’ll have the over competitive father attempting to get his kid to out do every other child and if you jokingly say “lets take it down a notch” you might have to fight him in the parking lot.

lorrie @ clueless in carolina December 6, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Nope, Patrick, our Montessori parents were about 1/2 and 1/2 and NOBODY talked to each other until YEARS had passed. Eventually, though, my Asian daughter and my white self had a joint 6th birthday party with a black family and we all had a blast.

The kids are now 12 and we’re still friends with the group. Once we bonded, we BONDED.

Ginger December 6, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Years? I don’t know if I find that hopeful or depressing. Though I am glad to hear that it can be overcome!

lorrie @ clueless in carolina December 6, 2010 at 10:28 pm

I just did not know what to make of it. I guess everybody was concentrating on their kids because they were so young, but it was just weird to have no eye contact, no sincere friendliness. Finally we all got to know each other. We went through potty accidents, field trips scheduled for kids too young to go away, ballet rehearsals, and finally started relying on each other and…but it was so weird at first.

Brooke December 6, 2010 at 10:47 am

I’m really surprised. We have a large playgroup that’s formed because of our Little Gym class.

The biggest issue we have is that Kellen has always been a little advanced in the gross motor development stuff, and so he doesn’t always fit in with his age group, and the other parents get kind of pissy when he mauls their barely walking kid. Thankfully our gym has let him move up to a more developmentally appropriate class!

Ginger December 6, 2010 at 9:13 pm

It very well could just be the class we were in–we’ve already got plans to go to a couple a week for the rest of the month, so we’ll see if it changes when the families are different. I hope so!

And I think we have the same problem with Jackson as far as the motor skills. Plus he’s a big kid, so we’re hoping we can keep the mauling to a minimum!

Megan December 6, 2010 at 12:57 pm

How funny. We took Charlotte to her first My Gym class today, like we just got home!

She had a blast, too. But, it was very small and there was no chance of me befriending any of the mothers there as there were only two of them, and they already knew each other.

We have Brooke’s problem, too. Charlotte is at the top of the age range so she was way more advanced than the other kids. They were like 14 months, compared to her 20 months. We’re trying out the next group up tomorrow to see if we want to join.

Man, if only we lived just a few hours closer to one another, we could go together, and WE could be the clichy moms. LOL

Ginger December 6, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I think we’d be the moms that everyone else wants to avoid because we’re laughing too loudly and being inappropriate 😉

jonna December 6, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Oh, this makes me sad! I met some of my closest friends through Sam’s MyGym classes! Seriously. I know that sounds lame, but it’s true.

Also, I hate the people who already know each other and aren’t friendly. I still attend gym class with my close friends, but we are friendly and open to EVERYONE. That’s shitty. And mean.

Ginger December 6, 2010 at 9:19 pm

That’s really what I was hoping would happen! I mean, I know it was just our first class (and a Sunday morning, so maybe people were just in a weekend daze??), but I was really hoping to meet some other parents–heck that’s part of why I wanted to try the class out!

Luckily no one in this class left us out–they all ignored each other too–because that would be way worse.

Ginger December 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Oh, what a bummer! I haven’t done Gymboree, but we did My Gym awhile back and while it wasn’t THAT bad, you aren’t too far off! It was an 8-week series of classes, and it wasn’t until week 5 or 6 that people finally got comfortable talking. I was shocked. Not sure if it’s social anxiety, fear that your child isn’t doing what the other ones are, or just plain lack of social skills, but it’s too bad that a place that could be great for swapping stories & making friends is exactly the opposite!

Ginger December 6, 2010 at 9:21 pm

I’m hoping it will improve a little over time, that maybe it was just “first time” jitters (or “how will this new kid/family change the dynamic of the class we have” jitters?), but it was a bit of a bummer–we struggle meeting parents with kids around Jackson’s age, so I sorta had my hopes up with this built in peer group!

The Sweetest December 6, 2010 at 2:08 pm

ha ha- every time i sign us up for something that i think will be a good way to meet new parents, i never meet any parents. i was beginning to think was something wrong with me, but i guess we are all destined to be loners. maybe if i go to blogher2011 i will me some awesome peeps. and some of those will be parents. who, unfortunately, live 1800 miles from here.

Ginger December 6, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Oooh, come to BlogHer so we can meet up! (I mean, we could technically meet another time, it’s not like I’ve never been to LA, but you know, built in event and all!). I may not be next door, but it’s not 1800 miles 🙂

Rachel December 6, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Yep, same experience and it killed me since I’m a social person. I used the website to find local parent groups. They tend to have many free gatherings and enough parents there to find people that don’t mind the basic social rules….you know, like talking….

Ginger December 6, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Talking is pretty much the most basic of them all. It’s funny, because I tend to be a little reserved around strangers, but with kids you have such a natural opening to start talking (especially when they’re basically playing together) that even I can do it. And if I can do it, really anyone can!
I keep meaning to do something with meetup, but there’s only one or two groups that have schedules that work with working moms, so I’ve not made the effort. It’s one of my goals for the new year though!

lorrie @ clueless in carolina December 6, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Isn’t it weird the way perfectly nice looking parents avoid conversation at a child’s social gathering or event? I am a very friendly and gregarious person and I never could figure it out. We had a small group of Montessori parents in the day that finally, after 5 years of attending the same parties, managed to slug down beer and moan together at Chuck E parties, but it took forever.

Elizabeth December 6, 2010 at 5:49 pm

I have no idea what kind of classes/activities we’ll be doing this spring, but I hope the Texas charm comes out and makes people around here friendly!

Ginger December 6, 2010 at 9:29 pm

The Texans do seem to be a little more open to just chatting than I’ve seen here in CA. Which, you know, when I was growing up annoyed the hell out of me–but man, how I wish that’s what we had now!

ABDPBT December 6, 2010 at 7:24 pm

That sucks! I think it’s probably just the luck of the draw, frankly. Mini’s My Gym class was very buddy-buddy. The parents did not necessarily become besties who went on double dates together, but the kids all went to each other’s birthday parties for a while there. This kind of changed as we all went to different preschools, but I think that’s kind of the nature of things.

Maybe as you keep going, you’ll get some more extroverted people at different classes and it will change. Plus, the kids just LOVE those classes.

Ginger December 6, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I think you’re right. I’m hoping that trying out some more classes, seeing different families and/or becoming a more familiar entity to the others will help.

And hey, if not, at least Jackson’s having a blast, which IS the primary goal. It would just be a nice bonus if we met some local parents with kids Jackson’s age.

kate December 7, 2010 at 11:35 am

You seem to have sparked quite the discussion with this post. My first reaction was jealousy because we live 90 minutes from the nearest Gymboree music/gym/play place and I know that Beckett would fit right in and, Lord knows, I could totally use her burning off some energy. But, I hate it when we do participate in some kind of activity like this – whether it’s storytime at the library or just the park – and I feel like my child and I are solo out there. The parents don’t want to mingle. The kids are kind of standoffish (and who can blame them when they have those kind of parents!?). Anyhow – it just makes me beg the question – What happened to “it takes a village to raise a child?”. And, then I start to think and ponder why I don’t have a lot of mommy-friends and I think that this – the gymboree thing – is exactly why…

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