Friday, June 16, 2006

If You Want To Destroy My Sweater...

When David and I were engaged, I developed a feverish obsession with choosing the right wedding dress. I had my Excel spreadsheet detailing all twelve (!) of the bridal salons I visited, plus my favorite dress at each one, its pros and cons, and special features. Late into the night I'd keep David awake with my persistent whine--how do I choose? After all, the dress at My Fluffy Wedding has more layers of tulle, but the one at I Heart Veil and Bouquet has more subtle beading on the bodice. David, driven mad from the constant interruption to a good night's sleep, reasonably argued that it didn't much matter because whichever one I chose, the result would be the same: I'd be wearing a big, white, puffy, shiny, fancy and--yes--beautiful wedding dress that would look great in photos. There would never be reason to regret my decision, so why not make it and have some peace?

Smart man. That's exactly what happened. And now I'm hoping history will repeat itself, because this week I've driven myself to distraction, once again, with the happy dilemma of too much choice. Yes, Readers: Jarrah and I went to JW Tumbles. It's in Point Loma, in the gaping "Going Out Of Business" maw of the shopping center behind the Bookstar. It's quite new, and we were able to drive almost all the way to their door. Nice and convenient. We were very early, but within a minute or so, a sweet, smiling girl came and opened the door for us, won over Jarrah in an instant, and for the first 15 minutes or so it was like we had our very own gym. Kind of like in "The Three Bears" I would say that it wasn't small like Gymboree or huge like My Gym, it was juuuuust right. It was clean and colorful and incredibly bright, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. I wasn't letting on to our young host, but Jarrah is a jaded old gym-goer now, and knew exactly what to do when she saw the familiar ladders and slides.

Soon, a young man arrived, and if he hadn't had a beard I would have clocked him at 15 years old. Actually, he was the manager, and completely adorable. Jarrah loved him, too. Like My Gym, we had two teachers for the class, but unlike My Gym, there were only about six or seven students. The manager put on some music, and once again I was surprised: it was a sort of KROQ mix, with The White Stripes and several other semi-morose bands with a bit of an edge. Not children's music at all. Again, I didn't mind. I thought that was an interesting choice.

The other children started trickling in, and Jarrah was like a one-baby welcome wagon, running out to greet them with a big wave. It was like she owned the place. The program was similar to My Gym in the sense that there was "circle time" at the beginning and end, and in between, the terrain was constantly changing with new props. If there wasn't as much gym equipment, there was instead an almost frenetic rate of situations created from goodies secreted in a back room: lawnmowers for racing, little cars for driving, big tubs of balls for jumping in. One mom asked me if 17-months was much different than 14-months (her daughter's age) because she hoped it would be less exhausting. Although I don't know much about babies, here was a question I knew something about. "It only gets more exhausting," I told her ruefully. "Sorry." "I was afraid of that," she said.

Besides that conversation, the other moms didn't interact with me, except one unfortunate moment that left a bad taste in my mouth. I know I just have to adjust to mommy-toddler politics and soon I'll be as cool as the rest of them, but right now it's new to me and a little upsetting. A little girl who was slower than Jarrah went in for a little car, and Jarrah, in her usual style, intercepted for the super-fast snatch without even acknowledging the other child. Except her mom, who blocked Jarrah's body, said pointedly "Excuse me, but she was using it" (like Jarrah was going to understand this! Her daughter was the same age!) and then, looking at me, "She was using it. Sorry." "That's okay," I said, though for some reason it wasn't and I felt a lump in my throat. I pulled Jarrah away and she cried a little. "Sorry," the mom, who looked like she'd been hewn out of marble, said again. "Don't worry about it," I said, but I felt all ooky. Maybe because there were half a dozen little cars on the floor. Maybe because I've been having the feeling lately that the relationship we're really working to create is one with other moms. After all, the children have a 14-second memory. Are they going to be offended by each other, or even remember the awkward skirmish five minutes later? Nope. But grown women can remember. And I find it alienating, particularly when you'd think this gal would have some intimate knowledge of the scandalous manners of this age group.

At any rate, for the rest of the class I felt a deep and baffling tiredness, though Jarrah was having a great time. I did notice, though, that the presence of those cursed little cars was a major distraction for her. If she could get to one, she wasn't interested in anything else that was going on. I didn't feel like that was her fault, though. I wish they had put the cars away before the final circle time.

Overall, JW Tumbles seemed very similar to My Gym, but smaller, newer, cleaner, and with less stuff. At My Gym, though, the flow sequence (will you listen to me?) seemed smoother, easier, more comfortable. The teachers at JW Tumbles had a light gleam of flop sweat lurking beneath their rapid-fire presentation. Not that they flopped. It's more that they sensed that they could.

On the way home, I was torn with indecision, and not a little aware that this decision, like the wedding dress, doesn't really matter. All these outfits are long-standing pros in the kid distraction business, and Jarrah has demonstrated that she will have a good time anywhere. In the end, I let David make the decision for me, so we could both sleep at night: My Gym is having a special right now, making it the cheapest for the most number of classes. It's fairly close by, and the vibe is casual, without intimidating moms sporting aftermarket enhancements. We start the week after next.

And David reminded me that, unlike the wedding dress, if I ever have reason to regret my decision, this is one that does have the option for a do-over. Heck, we could work our way through all three before Jarrah is ready for pre-school.


Anonymous said...

What sweater?

Congrats on the decision: Jarrah likes the place, it's less expensive, it's close!

No one likes to see their kid outfoxed - by other kids, or other moms.

Best, Gail

Amy said...

Sounds like a good choice. If I remember correctly from your previous post, it was at My Gym that all the other mommies knew how to "play nice". It is my guess that after shelling out the big bucks over time, the cheaper choice will continue to look more and more attractive!

Type (little) a aka Michele said...

Picking the most inexpensive one was a wise choice because I'm sure that Jarrah would have fun in a refrigerator box. AND picking one close by was a smart move, too because it doesn't matter how cheap it is if it's a schlepp and you don't go.

I always meant to enroll my daughter in Gymboree (the only one we have here in my area), but I never got around to it. I'm sure you guys will have lots of fun!

Unknown said...

You're a decision-maker after my own heart. I get you, I really GET you. At least you won't be in pain choosing the right Kindergarten -- you already know exactly where she belongs. More on this later . . .

Why don't the refs just let the players play? The kids will work it out. Unless it looks like there is potential for someone to get hurt, they NEED to learn to work it out. My troubles in this regard happened at My Gym, and we love My Gym. When Laura was three, a little boy of about eight (an older sibling of a classmate) was pelting her with balls from the ballpit before the class had officially started. His mother was (purposefully?) focusing her attention on her younger child. Laura was wincing and trying to move away, but he kept aiming and pelting. While I typically wouldn't say something directly to a child, he was old enough to know better, and so was his mother. ;) So I said something to the effect of, "Please don't throw balls at my little girl." The mom's pointed little ears perked right up and she marched over to say, and I quote precisely (because I'll never forget it), "What are you so amped about? The balls are PLASTIC."

Anyway, don't let "those" moms suck up an ounce of your positive force. Yeah, they are around and they are a bummer, but you'll meet way more cool moms than not.

Love, Cheri

P.S. My husband is my cherished voice of reason when I'm in pain over decisions too.

Anonymous said...

You little comparison-shopper, you! I can testify from personal experience how gorgeous your wedding dress turned out to be, so I'm sure that the kiddie gym you chose will also turn out to be fantastic. And how about getting some pre-thought-out come-backs ready for those sassy moms -- the next time one gets up in your face, you could have a quip up your sleeve so you don't feel quite so taken off guard? I would suggest something, but you're about 100 times more witty than me, so I'll leave it with you. xxx lix

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