Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's a Gymboree (and other Gym Classes) Day!

My friend Kashi and I took our twins for a trial class at My Gym last May, and met up with three other moms with twins who already attended. Julia loved the swings, the rocking toys, and the mini-trapeze. Meanwhile James was a bit skittish about the whole thing so when he discovered two frisbees he could bang together he spent the rest of the class doing just that. Several days after our My Gym visit, all of our kids got sick, leading Kashi to rename it My Germ.

Julia's in heaven on a swing.

James discovers two frisbees to bang together and now his My Gym class has meaning.

Three months later I purchased a Groupon for a month’s worth of classes at The Little Gym. The Little Gym and My Gym focus more on gymnastics than Gymboree and with James and Julia already among the youngest in the class the acrobatic skills were generally ill-suited for them. (Some of the older kids did just fine, but the way the level of difficulty was going I expected a handstand to a back somersault any day.) The babies never really got comfortable here (partly because we only attended four classes), and they - especially James - preferred to cling to my leg or tell me “Up up up” during class so I’d hold them. Julia had two favorite places in class. One was by the exit door as though to send me a not-so-subtle message. The other was sitting on a carpeted riser. Sometimes she liked to run around but often I couldn’t convince her to explore and she'd just retreat to her riser again.

Julia gazes longingly out the exit door.

Julia spent nearly all of one Little Gym class looking forlornly from this carpeted riser.

Mark joined me for class a couple times. Once was on our anniversary and I claimed that we spent our anniversary there not for the babies but so Mark could learn the acrobatic skill of the week. Julia came out of her shell more when Daddy was there and tried hanging from bars. Papa came with me once (and even wore clean socks!) and James liked having a lot of room to run to Papa to play 1-2-3-Hug. But if in mid-run for his hug he saw the male instructor (James seems to have a fear of men) his eyes would suddenly get big and he’d go the long way to maximize James-instructor distance. At one point during our last class kids practiced throwing balls. Julia participated by handing her balls to other mommies and James held one of each color and told other mommies, "Red ball, blue ball."

Daddy helps Julia on the uneven parallel bars at The Little Gym.

1-2-3-Knock over Papa!

Note James's distance from the instructor during bubble time.

Then at the end of August a new Gymboree opened up in Sunnyvale. They offered Las Madres members a free class while they trained new employees. My friend Stacy and her son Ronan attended along with the twins and since it was our kids’ first time, they were wary of circle time and preferred to explore the equipment instead. In fact, Julia spent well over half the class on the rocking horse. Meanwhile four employees clapped and sang by themselves in a circle trying their best to encourage the kids to come over. The twins were also transfixed by the toys on the wall. (James and Julia still love to pull them off and leave them in a big pile for Mommy to clean up.)

Julia's first time at Gymboree. She never even goes on the rocking horse anymore.

Julia and Ronan sail through the Tunnel of Love.

While I pay for classes the twins work together to take down all the toys on the wall.

A month later I got a good deal and enrolled the kids in Gymboree classes. We attended on a weekday with Stacy and again on the weekend when Mark could give me a hand. Papa came along whenever he could and the teachers still talk about Papa and James wearing matching hats and James running to Papa for his 1-2-3-Hugs. (Bubby joined Mark and me when she was in town. And once, Mark, Papa, Gaga, and I ALL came to class.) The first few classes James was clingy as expected and then... he started really enjoying it and blossomed. Julia was my daredevil all along in exploring the equipment on her own and she made sure she was front and center for the group activities. In particular she was always first in line for a hug from Gymboree's puppet mascot, Gymbo (see video). And she often made instructors Natasha, Beth, and Heather laugh with the enthusiasm of her “Hip Hip Hoorays!” (see video) and when she made the “shush” sign by putting her finger inside her mouth.

Julia gets a Gaga hug.

Bubby helps James down the slide.

Papa waits at the bottom of the slide to scare small children.

Julia LOVES Gymbo.

James tolerates Gymbo. (Actually he likes Gymbo too but it's hard to beat Julia's enthusiasm.)

Daddy helps Julia on the balance beam.

James sits on my lap for a song during circle time.

Climbing Julia

Climbing Julia and James

James insisted on bringing my belt to Gymboree. I hope he doesn't try to flog any toddlers who hog the bumpy slide.

Julia gives a Hip Hip Hooray!

James loved climbing and slides. Julia loved climbing, blocking traffic on the equipment so other kids couldn’t get through, and the air log. Both loved bubbles and parachute time (the force of the parachute going up would often knock over Julia standing underneath, much to our amusement). Originally the twins wanted no part of Gymbo stamps (rubber stamps bearing the likeness of Gymbo). Then for a few weeks Julia would stand in line for Gymbo stamps, as though to see what the fuss was all about, and then cry when she’d receive a stamp on her hand. And then after a few more weeks, both wanted Gymbo stamps and it was the first thing they’d chatter about excitedly when asked what they did at Gymboree. They both loved to present their tummies to the instructors for stamping. James and Julia also would refuse to let me wash their tummies during bathtime for fear that I'd remove their precious Gymbo stamps. As a result sometimes the instructors would be confused and think they'd already stamped my kids and skip over them because they'd see old Gymbo stamps on their tummies. I had to explain, "No, my children are just filthy."

Julia loves climbing up the air log.

Julia's disappointed that air log time has come to an end and sadly continues to hit the air log after it's been put away.

Julia goes fetal during bubble time when she realizes the air log isn't coming back out.

Julia loves bubble time.

James appears to rap during bubble time.

Julia crawls through a tunnel.

James with his pretend doggy tail.

Julia lies down in a pretend pile of leaves.

James enjoys parachute time.

James and Julia watch the parachute overhead.

The twins asked to go in this barrel and have Daddy put a lid on top.

Julia gets a Gymbo stamp.

Tummies reporting for inspection, Sir!
There are two interesting people in my classes. The first is what my kids would call a "big kid"; she looks like she's five. Her mom has a two-year-old in the class and brings this one along. The problem is that when the instructor passes out picture cards, she grabs all of them, and when the instructor hides objects in the room, she finds all of them. "Hey kid, you've just out-maneuvered a roomful of diaper-wearing babies. Congratulations." But seriously, why is there a five-year-old in my two-year-olds' class? Give her a book or something and make her wait in a chair in the corner. She's old enough.

My kids, who are the tallest (and, at least in theory, oldest) in their class, next to the five-year-old behemoth. You can see her staring down James as picture cards are about to be passed out. I think she started talking trash right after this shot was taken.

Julia snagged a few picture cards before the giantess could grab them all.

The second interesting character is the father of one of the kids in our class. He's a scary-looking, hyper-muscular tattooed dude. The first time I saw him he was wearing a t-shirt commemorating some sort of military activity. It was complicated looking. There was an eagle. And a snake. And they were fighting. A lot. There was a backdrop of a fluttering American flag and maybe this was all happening in the desert. Like I said, it was complicated. I don't know exactly what it was supposed to mean but I'm guessing he received it as a gift on the occasion of his fiftieth bare-handed kill. (Because that's how it works. The first kill is paper. The second kill is cotton. The twenty-fifth kill is a necklace of ears. And the fiftieth kill is, surprisingly, just a t-shirt.) Oh, and the best part is his name, which I know only because it was printed on the name tag stuck above one of his enormous pecs. "Omega." Seriously. I don't think American Gladiator ever had an Omega but he'd fit right in. Basically you don't want your kid tussling with his kid over a pair of maracas - unless you want Omega's arm down your throat and yanking out your intestines. [Thanks to Mark for contributing to the colorful descriptions of these two characters.]

Not Omega

If Stealth from American Gladiators didn't look so friendly and out of shape, he'd look like Omega.

James and Julia are about to age out of their class and after that we won't go back. Although they love it, the classes conflict with their schedules (things like breakfast and say, naps). Oh well. It’s been a great run. 

My babies in circular objects (thanks Stacy for the second pic!):

And the other baby:

Julia convinces Mark to go inside the tube and then when he's stuck, simply walks away.

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