As the weather gets colder, and parents frantically try to find indoor activities for their toddlers to do that will help release some of their destructive energy, open gym enters the picture as an answer to all of our problems. Forget Disney World, in the winter, open gym is literally the happiest place on earth. Though I could suggest some improvements, maybe a full-service bar? An observation deck with lounge chairs? And staff to keep a watchful eye on the chaos that ensues when 50 or more 2-6 year olds are under the same roof, for $10, a big open room for them to flail around will do just fine.
This past Saturday was the first day of Tiny Tumblers (cute right?) at the local gym. Pat and I rejoiced after a long morning of “tag,” which basically consists of chasing Riley around our futon. Tag in a 1500 square foot condo is a recipe for bruised shins and stubbed toes.
Covered in Dora the Explorer Band Aids, we jumped in the car, panicked that we might be turned away due to overcrowding if we were late. And though thrilled to be there, after a 6-month hiatus, I had forgotten some of the not so rosy parts of open gym.
- That kid. You know the one I mean. The snot-nosed hellion that has no manners or regard for anyone else around them. It literally took everything I had not to push a certain 5-year old off the trampoline when he plowed through Riley and her friend who were enjoying their turn jumping and frolicking at their own two-year old pace. Watch your back kid. Who do you think people will believe? You? Or the sweet mom with the baby in the front pack? You’ve been warned.
- Parents who believe that open-gym operates under the “it takes a village” philosophy. Watch your own kids. I have enough going on without having to worry that your three-year old is using a jump rope as a pulley-system on the uneven bars and just let go and snapped your two-year old in the face. I don’t do blood, OK?
- Obsessed rule followers. I’m sorry, but telling a two-year old to wait her turn and only go one way down the trampoline is like telling a sleep-deprived mother she can only drink decaf coffee. It will likely end in a fight to the death. I completely agree in the importance of explaining rules to our children. That being said, two-year olds operate under their own set of rules and I don’t appreciate the look of disgust I was given when Riley gleefully started to run back the other way at the end of her turn. She’s excited, ok? Deal with it.
- The foam pit. It is a deathtrap. Kids hurling themselves into a pit, on top of one another, is just asking for a foot to the face. It’s not cool. Plus, I get stuck in the damn thing every time I have to go in to retrieve Riley. Sure, Sure, let’s all laugh at the mom who can’t get out. Stop gawking and lend a hand, throw a rope, do something.
After 60 minutes of insanity, we manage to wrangle Riley and force her back into her sneakers, give her a fresh diaper, and a snack, and head home.
It only takes about 30 seconds for her to pass out in the back seat. If the seat to bed transfer goes smoothly, we are guaranteed at least 2 hours of quiet time, before Riley wakes up asking to play “tag” again.
The struggle is real, but oh so worth it.