"Hi, hi, how do you do, welcome to My Gym. We're here for fun and some games, now it's time to begin!" Those words will haunt me until my grave. The sickeningly sweet song is sung at the beginning of every class at My Gym, a recreational gym for babies and toddlers. I felt enormous parental peer pressure to drag my son into these classes when he was barely old enough to sit up. It was frowned upon if you didn't have your 3-month-old in a socially active gym class. There are all different ones -- Gymboree, My Gym, the Little Gym. All of them clearly are centered around the word "gym," and I'm a fitness fanatic, so I figured why the fuck not. Little did I know that I was walking into a complete shitshow.
It all starts in a big circle. Parents sit behind their babies, and you clap their hands as they drool and shit themselves. There are lots of songs and the most basic of games, and at some point you throw your kids into the ball pit (see: disease pit). It lasts for an hour, which in my opinion is 59 minutes too long. Some of the kids are really into it and their eyes light up and they giggle and coo and are very attentive. Not my son. He cried his ass off from the moment we stepped in the door until the moment we left. Throw in the fact that I was always the only adult male in the room (except the too-gay-to-function class coordinator), and we became the unintentional focus. Not my style.
So I took him to these classes for a few weeks, and the same thing happened each time. Finally, during one of his breakdowns, I lost my cool, scooped him up, and left mid-class. That was the end of it. No more songs. No more "games." No more colds. No more gym. My child would now be the one who isn't getting a head start on his education and social activities, and would be bound to grow up unintelligent and socially inept. Except he's perfectly OK.
I think those classes are a great idea if you have a child who is into them. You really have to let them guide you in that decision and do what is best for them. He just didn't dig it, and after trying several times, I stopped pushing it, and both of us were happier as a result. My Gym has become a popular place for birthday parties, so when we go, we just let him do his thing and hang off the walls like a monkey. For we, of all people, will never question him wanting to be different.
Parents: What have your experiences been with classes such as My Gym? Have you had good ones/bad ones? How often would you get sick after attending classes like these? Leave responses below.
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate's parenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.