As a stay-at-home mother of energetic 3-year-old twin boys, the discovery of “Mommy and Me” classes made me happier than non-chafe nursing pads. It meant getting out of a house so baby-proofed I couldn’t watch my own TV, and the boys would get exercise.
We started with “Mommy and Me Yoga,” where a young male instructor lead us through animal poses. Everyone arched their backs and characteristically roared like lions. Soon though, my enthusiastic boys were taking their cranes, camels, and cobras on safari with increasing volume. At the point where Aidan’s “monkey” jumped on Axel’s “horse” and they whooped around like caffeinated Orangutans, the teacher decided we needed to practice stillness. He corralled the boys back to their mats, telling them to lie motionless for one minute—the most important part of yoga, called shavasana. Definitely a set up for failure.
As my family tromped out of the yoga room in an active version of the donkey pose, I thought about how I had wasted thirty dollars. If I’d wanted a futile attempt at making my kids “practice stillness,” I could have stayed home and zipped them into their crib tents.
Realizing the dream of “stillness” was years away, I signed us up for toddler gymnastics where we found a babysitter-type girl monitoring the activity stations. The boys quietly took their places in the trampoline line. But once onboard, they re-created a Hulk Hogan worthy smack-down match. Chest slams. Wall rebounds. Mayhem ensued until the loser was shot off the trampoline like a human cannonball into the balance beam, where a three-year-old girl in a lavender tutu was blown backwards onto her mother.
I apologized, and the attendant handed the girl a balloon. I steered the boys to the tunnels and bridges, and made a swinger-in-a-bar style attempt to befriend a sympathetic looking mom. The conversation was going well until a sidelong glance caught a commotion in the Hippity-Hop-shaped-like-barn-animals area.
Without my glasses on, I thought perhaps the boys had started a healthy Hippity Hop competition. (Who could go the farthest? Stay on the longest?) But no. It became clear my children were hoisting yellow and blue Hippity horses into the air and bashing them down on each other and some random boy while laughing maniacally. A ring of horrified mothers encircled them, as if held back by invisible crime scene tape.
As I pulled the boys off their new friend, they chanted in unison: “He wouldn’t share! He wouldn’t share!”
“They wanted the orange pig,” the boy’s mother announced. “They asked him for a turn, and he said no. It’s his choice,” she declared. Then she squinted at me and added, “You might consider getting them tested.”
Having hammered the idea into my kids that not sharing was never an option, I wondered if this family had recently landed from Neptune. I scolded my boys that it’s never OK to hit someone, and then considered whacking the woman with said orange rubber pig.
I hauled my children to the car again. Perhaps gymnastics was too physical.
Our next experiment, the “Music for All of Us” class, was taught by a young female who apparently had never actually met any children. Several tiny kids sat politely in front of their mothers, tapping on miniature tambourines, while the instructor sat on a stage strumming her guitar and over-enunciating the words to Kumbaya as if the crowd were hearing impaired.
My boys turned their backs on this passive tableau, grabbed pumpkin-sized noise shakers, and danced a furious flamenco like Ricky Martin on crack. The mothers kept a deliberate forward gaze, congratulating themselves for the superior manners and compliance of their children.
I got hold of the noise makers, but then Aidan was on the stage yelling, “My turn! My turn!” while attempting to wrestle the guitar from the teacher’s hands. As I ran to pry Aidan’s fingers from the strings (and the instructor’s hair), Axel was already banging on a giant drum with his shoe in a frenzied state evoking Animal from The Muppet Movie.
The mothers glared openly, muttering what sounded like “not able to control her kids.” I got Axel under one arm and Aidan by his overalls, and hauled them (one more time) to the car. I was resigned to my status as a “Mommy and Me” flunk-out, when I saw a flier for a mom and baby swim class. I signed up with trepidation.
When we entered the pool area for class, I scanned for hazards. Could they drown? Crack their heads on the wet tiled deck? Get limbs or tongues sucked into the intake vents? As it turned out, water was the perfect place. Clad in rubber diapers, no accident would ruin the boys’ fun (or mine.) Singing and splashing were encouraged, and kicking your brains out like an insane dolphin from Sponge Bob Squarepants was rewarded. I let the helpful and patient instructor sign us up for three months in advance.
We never made it back to any land-based “Mommy and Me” classes, but the green and red Hippity Hop cows I bought were a big hit under the Christmas tree. They also offered me a few moments of peace so I could child-proof the cupboards above my refrigerator.