Once a week I take both kids to a Little Gym class, where they dutifully tumble around on gymnastics equipment (well, to be honest: Riley dutifully follows instructions and climbs on things when he’s told, while Dylan buzzes around the room like a rogue pinball, occasionally hurling himself into thin air from the tops of the uneven bars while the teachers’ backs are turned) and I sit in an uncomfortable plastic chair in a row of uncomfortable plastic chairs, all facing a giant window which I was initially convinced was one-way glass.

(It’s not, as I discovered the first day once Dylan suddenly popped up into view, his nose pressed snoutlike to the window as he waved gaily at me and I pretended not to know him because yeah right, like that’s MY kid running in demented little circles making farty motorboat sounds while everyone else is paying attention.)

The experience of sitting in this room has made me extra-cognizant of parental douchebaggery, as I think I’ve now reluctantly overheard every obnoxious discussion it’s possible to hear, often via someone’s extra-loud cellphone conversation which they conduct with one finger plugged dramatically into one ear as they shout over the poor gym teacher’s attempted presentation about what exactly it is our children are learning today.

Vaccinations and why everyone should delay them, foods no child should be allowed to eat (#1 on the list: sugar, NOT EVER!), the best private preschools for the under-3 crowd, the right entertainment to hire for birthday parties . . . I don’t know, I’m not saying these things aren’t worth talking about, but the fact that I hear so very much about these topics every time I sit in that room has totally started reminding me of those Windows 7 commercials:

I mean, really? You get like an hour to kick back and bullshit without a kid climbing halfway up your ass, and really?

You know who I want to sit with? Someone who will join me in (lovingly!) making fun of our kids. I want to elbow someone and point at Dylan and go, “What the hell does he have in his brain, exactly? Packing peanuts?” And they’ll laugh and go, “Wait, check out my kid! He’s totally about to fall off the balance beam. This is going to be hilarious.”

I’ve eliminated any possibility of this ever happening, though. After class, as the kids came stampeding out and the parents applauded, my adorable boys rushed into my arms and shouted “MOM! MOM! WE DID SO GOOD TODAY! CAN WE HAVE MCDONALDS?”

And as fifteen pairs of eyes turned to see how I’d turn them down, I said “What the hell, guys. Why not?”

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Alyce
Alyce
11 years ago

Why not, indeed? Love me some filet-of-fish!

Gnometree
11 years ago

McDonalds is a sometimes food. just ask cookie monster.

Lena
11 years ago

I guess its the age we live in, and when our children are otherwise occupied, we feel like we have to FILL THAT SPACE with something, anything, except just enjoying the view.

Lori
Lori
11 years ago

I am currently suffering through toddler gymnastics. I must have missed some memo because the other moms in the class seem to have turned it into a bible study. There’s absolutely no humor involved. And the effort it takes to get my kid in her damn leotard, out of the house, and in the car only to have her cling to me like a terrified spider monkey or run around not listening to the instructor really makes me wonder: WHY? Why am I putting myself through this?

Danell
Danell
11 years ago

I would totally sit with you and make fun…of the kids, the teachers, the other parents, and mostly myself. Then I would go with you to McDonalds, where I would proceed to hog all the French fries.

Meagan
11 years ago

Oh Linda, I adore you so much. If I didn’t live on the other side of the country, and if my “kid” were older than a fetus, I would totally join you in offspring mocking.

I don’t know why I bother commenting on most parenting blogs- most of the othe commenters are humorless freaks who enjoy nothing more than getting offended- except maybe pointing out what terrible parets other people are (or in my case, what a terrible parent I’m GOING to be). It always make sme wonder if there’s something biological about becoming a parent that turns you into a self-centered, smug asshat. You give me hope that it’s possible to keep some perspective.

Lindsay
Lindsay
11 years ago

Man, I so know how you feel.

The Momma
11 years ago

We found that the toddler gym is no place to make friends with parents. Everyone is just so….serious. While we’re there laughing at the ridiculous things the kid is doing (uh, hi kids are ridiculous!).

It’s just not that serious. It’s kids running around being monkeys. Hopefully without as much poop flinging. But no guarantees.

Sahara
11 years ago

Sometimes it’s so annoying to live in the Pacific NW. I have managed to sleuth out that the parents at my school think “muffins” are an ok snack, but “cupcakes” are not. So, it’s just the frosting we’re objecting to here? But streusel topping is cool, apparently. I *know* that minimizing sugar is a good goal, but these people seem confused about actual nutrition.

My kid has also attended three birthdays in the last month that were at a kid’s gym. His birthday is later this month and we are pretty much resigned to this being his crappiest birthday yet because LIKE HELL we are shelling out $200 (rental + food) for 90 minutes of party. He’s going to be so disappointed, no matter how many times we tell him it will just be him and a buddy + movie/pizza/cake kind of affair.

Betsy
Betsy
11 years ago

Any chance you want to move to Ohio?

Yeah…didn’t think so, but we’d have a blast together!

Corey
Corey
11 years ago

This is exactly why I hate going to anything like this. Why are all parents these days so weird??! Do you by any chance watch Parenthood on NBC? Last nights episode with the birthday party? OMG it’s crazy. My kid doesn’t eat cheese, is this cake gluten free? can you tell everyone not to clap because my kid doesn’t like loud noises.
REALLY?
Linda-I’ll go to gymnastics with you and make fun of our kids! Someone has to stop this madness!

Emily
Emily
11 years ago

Apparently you need more teachers in your life. We do nothing BUT (lovingly) make fun of the kids. I’ve got names for them: “The Twinkie”, “Tantrums McGee”, “But…Well, Actually…”, etc. Just remember, your faithful readers are with you in spirit, pointing out the kid that is too busy pulling her leotard out of her butt to pay attention.

Pinkie Bling
Pinkie Bling
11 years ago

Wouldn’t it be great if some of the things in the commercial started happening? Private preschool debate = baseball to the temple. Now THAT would be fun to watch!

Maureen
Maureen
11 years ago

Wow, that sucks. I took my daughter to swim lessons for years, got to know the parents, and we would yuck it up for the 45 minutes of swim time. It was great getting some fun adult time, sorry you don’t have that.

RadioNovember
11 years ago

Can I just say, I love you? McDonald’s was the first word my youngest knew how to spell. Over the recent holiday season our family once went to McDonald’s four times.

In one day.

I have the receipts to prove it.

Hey! How ’bout that remodel of the 140th Ave McD’s? I kinda miss the Vettriano http://tinyurl.com/4p7y8vc.

Angella
11 years ago

This is why I wish we lived closer, because my friends and I make fun of our kids ALL DAY LONG. I mean, how else are you supposed to survive parenthood? Aside from plying them with Happy Meals, that is.

RadioNovember
11 years ago

Shit. Here is it. (damn punctuation)

http://tinyurl.com/4p7y8vc

MichelleH
MichelleH
11 years ago

I adore you Linda but I’m one of the moms who doesn’t let my kid have (much) sugar or McDonald’s and I’m so tired of people automatically assuming that makes me a raging asshole, as I would also totally love to make fun of the kids at the gym class (maybe THAT is what makes me the raging a-hole..? Not saying that I’m not one-just diputing the reason.)

But seriously, parks, classes these are not places to make friends. I got more lectures about sleep training, the Ferber method, and providing my kid “more structure” in a 2 minute conversation with strangers at the park then anywhere else. People really are at their douchiest in these settings, jockeying to make their positions on the mom spectrum clear to all present in the small amount of time alloted.

But really, I get so much crap for the food choices with my kid. I don’t judge other people’s food choices with their own kids and generally don’t discuss it, in the same way I avoid conversations about religion. I wouldn’t bat one eyelash about you taking your boys to McDonald’s-but I feel like, if you saw me at the gymnastics class, armed with my aresenal of organic veggies I think your assumption would be that I would. And then we wouldn’t be able to make fun of the kids together and that would be so sad. Just sayin’.

Anne
Anne
11 years ago

Awesome. Maybe next time you should go to McDonald’s *before* class and just happen to bring some smelly fries to the waiting area with you.

…what, is that too much?

Caroline
Caroline
11 years ago

You should put your cell up to your ear and make fun of your kids to the pretend caller on the line. “Girl he just fell of the balance beam….AGAIN” hahahah!

Lisa May
11 years ago

An hour of lovingly mocking my offspring with some non-douchy parents sounds like loads of fun. If you’re ever in Chicago with the boys, we’ll organize a mock your kids (with love) meetup.

Sundry
Sundry
11 years ago

Aw, Michelle. I wouldn’t care if you spent the entire class stuffing your kids with organic veggies until their rear ends turned into carrot-powered Gatling guns, as long as I don’t have to hear what a child abuser I am for allowing the occasional Happy Meal. :)

MichelleH
MichelleH
11 years ago

Oh, Linda your description of carrot-powered Gatling guns is not that far off, unfortunately. :) And no calls to CPS from me ;)

Kalisa
11 years ago

god I wish you lived near me. I mean, my kid’s a senior in high school, but I’d totally come hang out with you and make fun of *your* kids.

Zoot
Zoot
11 years ago

Don’t give up! I finally found several groups of women who join me in openly mocking our children. I even found a book club with people who read YA books! I wish you luck but you are doing the right thing – follow your instincts. If that group of women doesn’t seem the right fit? Keep looking. I promise women like us are out there. We’re just all hiding from the scary parents in different places.

Also – my favorite over heard conversation? Two moms discussing how there is NO WAY they would let their daughters pick out their own clothes. “Can you imagine what they’d be wearing right now?” Well – let’s just say the outfit my daughter picked out that day? Probably was exactly what they feared. HA!

Elaine
11 years ago

I’m not going to lie to you, if you lived anywhere near Philadelphia and my kid was a little older i would happily sit and make fun of our kids with you. I mean if you consider all the torture these children put us through with the not sleep and the not eating and the trying to kill themselves without knowing it I think we deserve some time to mock them.

I overhear a lot of similar conversations to those when I drop my kid off/pick him up from Daycare. The real issue there is that the parents involved in these conversations feel the need to give out advice like it’s stored in a PEZ dispenser. YES I FEED MY KID THE GERBER STUFF BECAUSE I’M TOO BUSY/LAZY TO MAKE HIS BABY FOOD. BACK.OFF.BITCH.

ellbee
11 years ago

Why don’t any of you people live near ME? Granted, my son is only 4.5 months old, but I just wish I could talk about how absurd he is sometimes. (Who rolls onto his stomach 50 times a day and then pitches a wobbler becuase he has momentarily forgotten how to roll back EVERY SINGLE TIME? This kid. Sheer genius!) Anyway, I’ve met some nice moms at a local baby group, but since we’re all first-time moms, everyone is so damned SERIOUS. (Except for me. And my potty mouth.) Where are my people?

Stephanie
11 years ago

I am with you, though I am lucky enough to live in a place where at least half of us parents can (and do) make fun of our kids. Just today at my daughter’s dance class, I was waiting outside in just the situation you’ve described above while another mom waited and tried to entertain/settle down her three-year-old son. She kept shooting me “I’m so sorry my kid is being so wild” looks, until I finally said, “What he’s basically doing here is my boot camp workout. So far I’ve seen plank-jacks, high knees, and jumping rope without the rope.” Then we proceeded to (lovingly) make fun of our daughters inside the dance class.

Good times on a Wednesday afternoon. We have to stay sane somehow, right?

Shelley
Shelley
11 years ago

HA! I am so glad I’m not the only parent who amuses herself at the kids’ expense. Too bad about the douchebags though. I get that at every parent-teacher meeting. The slightly-sneery up-and-down look, the “Oh, so that’s YOUR son,” and of course, I do let my kids dress themselves, so they always look like they got dressed in the dark. In a dumpster behind a thrift store. AFTER the homeless people got all the good stuff.

You’d be fun to hang out with. Those douche-canoes don’t know what they’re missing!

GJ
GJ
11 years ago

So, my two year old is in toddler ballet (which is a total oxymoron)! On her first day, one of the other douche bag high and mighty parents had the nerve to tell my husband and I that we shouldn’t laugh at our daugher falling on her butt in class and demonstrated to us how we should praise her. What the hell! Maybe you can web-cast their class and we can all make fun together…give the other parents something to talk about.

Laura
11 years ago

HAH, I just posted today about my kid LICKING THE WALL at our tiny tots class:
http://diniwilks.blogspot.com/2011/02/lickopotamus.html

I think we would get along fabulously.

Christina
11 years ago

Whoa really? That would suck. Maybe I am overtly clueless or living in la-la land. I BS with the best of them about how funny these classes are and joke about my kid whether I know the parent sitting next to me or not. I feel like it is all way to competitive and that we think by doing all of that stuff we will improve our children when the reality is they are just going to be who they are going to be whether they eat sugar or not, you know?! I loudly bribe my 2.5 yr old with Kisses all the time and I get those looks too. That is weird. I want to stop by and whisper in their ears “MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS DOUCHE BAG” (and to prove they are douche bags they are driving the largest SVU in the lot with the environmental plates!!!!!)

Valerie
Valerie
11 years ago

I think we would be best friends.

JennB
JennB
11 years ago

I would love to come to class with you. My kids go to gymnastics too (or, as my son calls it, ‘mynastics’) and I wish so badly for a buddy to go with us so that my kids can focus on the other kids wearing them out, rather than me….

Come on along! We can chortle at Those Other Parents, and hell, maybe bring cupcakes with extra sugary frosting to some class event! Whoo!

Kirsten
11 years ago

You are so MY PEOPLE. Funny, I was just chuckling to myself at my son’s preschool valentines party because there was a handful of mom’s who were freaking out about the candy attached to the valentines that were handed out. And also the cupcakes and cookies during the party. No offense to those who don’t allow sugar, I just don’t get the ones who can’t relax and let their kids have FUN once in a while – like say for a party!
I sometimes wonder if these kids that are deprived of sugar are gonna go NUTS one day when they have the freedom to purchase their own goodies. Food for thought…

Connie
Connie
11 years ago

I don’t even have kids and I so totally get this. Go Linda! Stupid parent snobs.

Julie
11 years ago

Amen!

It’s just so exhausting trying to be so politically correct around these parents, out of fear that I’ll say the wrong thing and get death glares of how-stupid-are-you-you’re-killing-your-kids.

I thoroughly believe our sides would ache from laughing through the hour together. What’s more fun than that? You’re my kind of people. I hope I meet the local version of you (unless you care to visit, and you’re more than welcome) at the next class or birthday party.

Heck, let’s hit up Baskin Robbins after McDonalds.

jonniker
11 years ago

Dude, I met some of my best friends at Sam’s gym class. My friend Megan and I went together, which MIGHT have given us the confidence to tell other moms to STFU, but I don’t know.

For the record, there ARE TOTALLY the mom douches in our class, but we lucked out and met several who are the antithesis. In fact, one of the women was immediately welcomed into our fold when, in the middle of gym class, her kid did something spectacularly dumb, and she threw her hands up, looked at me and said (loudly), “I mean, are you fucking KIDDING ME, GRACIE?” while laughing and then cringed when she realized what she said.

HAHAHAHAHAH. I almost hugged her. She is also known to imitate every word her kid says at playgroup without even realizing it.

I think you should move to Boston. There are lots of douches here, but the vast majority of moms I meet are super-normal and take their kids to McDonald’s once in a while and their kids eat Goldfish — the real ones, not always the Annie’s bunnies — and occasionally suck down too much juice and GOD, come here, I’m serious. Oregon might be your dream, but you must trust me, Boston is much more your style. You’d love it here. You can live next to MEEEEEEEEEEEE. I have a lovely group of friends who are normal and mock their children with impunity. We’d have fun!

Lori
Lori
11 years ago

Don’t be jealous, but our Little Gym is in a shopping mall, so I drop my daughter off and hit the stores for an hour. It’s great. Over the years I’ve been in a lot of those uncomfortable Mom situations. The WORST in recent months was a coffee morning with moms from my son’s class b/c the kids weren’t around as a distraction. I’ve found that if I take the first step and make a little fun of my kids, even the most uptight mom will follow…eventually. Otherwise, I just come up with a non-kid topic to chat about. I used to feel really guilty about things like letting my kids eat McD’s. Then I moved somewhere with a lot of folks from other countries and I realized that us Americans can be pretty uptight (to make a sweeping generalization). It’s nice to be around people who let kids be kids.

Aimee
11 years ago

YES. Almost 11 years of SAHM’ing, and I cannot count the number of times I have been privy (and drawn into) those horrible conversations. It was so great to get to the park on Sunday and talk with a friend about how our boys (ages 10 & 7…for both of us) seem to have NO common sense.

Why must we all pretend our little darlings are perfect? I live with these guys…they (and I) are FAR from perfect…

We live in the same metro area…let me know if you ever want to let them loose at a park together and laugh at them. :)

Erica
11 years ago

AMEN!! I would have KILLED to have had you next to me when my daughter was at the Little Gym!

Anyabeth
11 years ago

This is why I fear the Little Gym. My kid would be over the moon (and probably running around farting with Dylan) but I would be killed in that little room. My patience for parenting theatre is so low that I think my brain would explode immediately in that situation.

m @ rambling musings
11 years ago

I always wonder about those uber-anal parents…like the most important thing for kids is that they eat carrots instead of mcD’s…when really they should be developing the independence and self awareness to identify what works for them [obviously Dylan has a good grasp of this].

I just went to a corporate event w/ my SO and all the sahm spent the evening talking about how they parent. Even one of the not-sahms [who aspires to be a sahm] eagerly joined in. Total contrast to my work schmoozing where parent-talk is minimal and usually limited to either making fun of kiddos or celebrating time *away* from said kiddos….

babelbabe
11 years ago

I would totally join you – both in the loving teasing and the Mickey D’s.

Josefina
11 years ago

Wow, that’s funny because things swing the opposite way where I live, and that’s frustrating, too. I guess any extreme gets annoying.

I’d love to sit next to you and laugh. Little kids are so weird and funny. And cute, of course.

Sharon
Sharon
11 years ago

I would totally sit with you and make fun of our kids AND the other neurotic parents!

sooboo
11 years ago

Sounds like you are going to have to wait until your kids are old enough to sit with you and make fun of the other kids and their parents! I have fond memories of the nicknames my mom and I would give people that were never ever to be uttered near them, natch.

Jennifer
Jennifer
11 years ago

My kids are in elementary school now, but I wanted to warn you to BE WARE of these preachy types. They have let loose on our school and have done the following (and I shit you not)

1. No Halloween. At all. none.

2. “Approved snack list” for parties. Luckily this was taken by most parents with a snort, but they are trying to push this.

3. Complain about the soda that any teacher consumes during school hours. They are setting a bad example.

Seriously, what a bunch of losers. I didn’t see the TV show Corey was talking about, but it’s spot on in my school. Sickening.

Kris
Kris
11 years ago

Oh gawd, I swear I’m bombarded with smug parenting every time I leave the house. When did the world become so full of pretentious, self-righteous, elitist assholes?????

This morning, I asked my kid’s speech therapist if we could have a meeting with his occupational therapist at McDonald’s next week. My kid is a wanderer, & I need some tips on how to reign him in when we’re out & about. The look of horror that passed on her face when I uttered the phrase McDonald’s made me laugh out loud. Of course, 90 seconds later she admitted that she had just come from the gas station for a grande cappuccino & a giant donut.

alfredsmom
11 years ago

you are awesome. I am alone in my living room laughing.

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