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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Helen
11 years ago

I wish that your kids were in my kid’s little gym class. Only difference is my kid wants Starbucks after class ;)

bea
bea
11 years ago

I think this is one of my favorite posts from you! Living in the Bay Area, I hear so much of those conversations and want to scream. I too would be right there next to you laughing at the kids and texting you making fun of the other parents there too!

j
j
11 years ago

I’m in Redmond. Tell me when and where – I’ll bring the lattes and my 4 year old and we’ll do it up right. If you can’t make fun of your own kids (and really other people’s as well) what’s the point?

Donna
Donna
11 years ago

You mean that kids are not for making fun of? Since when?
I still make fun of my kids for shit they did when they were little, and it gets better when they are older, they do even stupider stuff. Like my daughter, when she was 16 went in a revolving door, went round and round until she forgot where the opening was, and walked right into the glass trying to get out. It was freaking hysterical! And the grandkids? LOL all the damn time!
It’s better to laugh than cry right?

Candy
11 years ago

I wish your kids would have been in my kids’ Little Gym classes. I would have had a lot more fun, and would have felt a lot less out of place!

megan
megan
11 years ago

Ah, what Jonna said. B/c I’m the Megan she’s talking about. And my kid gets french fries fairly regularly, and I have a tendency to mock her when she’s having a tantrum.

Christie
Christie
11 years ago

I’ll come mock your kids with you while they’re in gym class, if you come mock my six year old in his hip hop class. Because I can’t even make eye contact with some of the parents there for fear their douchebaggery is contagious. Deal? (I’m near Victoria BC… totally worth the commute).

pixielation
11 years ago

I am more likely to mock mine too – I feel embarrassed at talking about the things that my kids ARE good at, because boasting and bragging is such an ugly trait.

And I never could understand how those Window’s 7 ads were saying that the phone frees you up to use it less and interact in life more. Are they actually suggesting that there is nothing interesting on the phone itself?

Because if I have to sit in a room with the female equivalent of gargoyles, I’d be on my phone playing angry birds the whole time!

sarah
sarah
11 years ago

If I didn’t live practically on the other side of the country, I would SO be sitting next to you making fun of our kids.

Tia
Tia
11 years ago

This is my life times three. My kids are in every sport that is offered. Ya think maybe they don’t like being at home? But anyway, one thing I’ve learned is that those moms tend to stick together. Just look behind them for the mom sitting by herself. She’s your girl :)

Cheryl S.
Cheryl S.
11 years ago

Come sit by me!! Jess does gymnastics once a week and I’m surrounded by those same sancti-mommies! It’s funny. I’ll be talking about Jess (not in her presence) and say something about her being a goofball, or a brat, or a whatever (lovingly of course) and people look horrified! Well, damn. I live with her, I should know! And it’s not like I’m saying it like I mean it!

BTW, Jess can totally order her own Happy Meal, so I’m right there with you on that one too.

Becky
Becky
11 years ago

Linda…I love you……

And thank you Tia…I now know who to look for!

Susie
Susie
11 years ago

See?! This is why I love you! I mean, you know, as much as one can love someone they’ve never met who lives 3,000 miles away.

Stephanie
Stephanie
11 years ago

omg… i so feel your pain! first i did this with my step-daughter (her mom was always there too and was one of Those Moms, so i was doubly out of place). LOL! Now i’m doing this with my own daughter… and tia is right, look for the other one by herself.

and speaking of pain? crossfit. gah! ;o)

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Wow I cannot imagine! I seriously wonder if it has anything to do with your location: down here in the south we gather at chuck e cheez and let the kids run wild while we talk about all our misfit family members. I have seen mothers get up and walk away with the vaccination topic comes up simply because they could care less. But then again we re all gun weilding, cussing, sarah palin loving rednecks =)

Kiera
11 years ago

I have been reading/lurking on your blog since just after Dylan was born. I think you are just so funny and real! I would totally diss my kid with you. Yesterday while playing with our neighbors my son tripped and skinned his knee. In typical Alex fashion a pretty dramatic scene erupted (he wasn’t even bleeding). I leaned over to my neighbor and whispered “he’s such a girl”, and got nothing but a strange look in return. Luckily my husband thinks I’m funny and we often play the snarky, sarcastic comment game (all in good fun). I think that’s why I like reading your blog, you say what I would in the same situation! Thanks for keeping me entertained!

Jody
11 years ago

Oh boy that mompetition is FIERCE!

Actually, better than dissing the kids would be to talk about dildos or some other taboo topic that would finally draw the room into blissful silence.

*snort*

Kim S.
Kim S.
11 years ago

Oh, I’d happily pull up a chair if I didn’t live in the middle of the flyover. You really should read Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Moves. The author is from Seattle and talks a lot about all the “perfect parenting” that goes on there. Our generation is doing this everywhere though, my town included. It is an exhausting way to parent.

Erin
Erin
11 years ago

I just signed my son up for tumbling/creative movement (really? What the hell is creative movement? Did I get transported back to the 60’s!) yesterday…now, I know what I have to look forward to. I think that maybe I should take that time to introduce my little one to swedish fish or some other sugar filled candy :)

Kristi
Kristi
11 years ago

You know? I’d totally sit next to you and make fun of our kids. It’s one of my favorite things to do. And you know what else? I bought my 2-year-old his first Happy Meal last Sunday and thought, OMG, so many moms would think I’m a horrible parent for doing it, but eff it! In my opinion, it’s a part of childhood. I don’t know which one of us enjoyed it more.

Jaime
Jaime
11 years ago

I love this article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12192050

It’s all about how much Mom’s lie in order to appear to be better parents. It actually started a ‘Real Parenting Revolution’ calling for 2011 to be the year that parents stop bullshitting about how perfect they are. I guess the revolution hasn’t reached toddler gym class yet.

anne nahm
11 years ago

Just crushed harder on you than a redneck with an empty beer can, trying to impress a girl.

Janet in Miami
Janet in Miami
11 years ago

Back in our 20s, my husband and I had a bunch of friends, and it just so happened that most of us paired up with someone in our group, got engaged, married, and then started having kids all together. Thought it would be great since we were all good friends already – but alas – several became these hyper competitive mother types. Some were so superior, it was uncomfortable for me to be around such goddesses.

Maggie
Maggie
11 years ago

I so wish my kids went to that gym with yours because I would be in on making fun of them. Or how about talking about something totally un-kid-related like movies, books, music! Imagine the thought!

Kristine
Kristine
11 years ago

I’ll do you one better: when my son was all of 3 years old, his preschool classmate lectured my son AND me on the evils of chocolate; why it makes you FAT; why exercise is so important, or you will become FAT. (emphasis his, with all the passion of a 3-year old) WTF??? My son doesn’t like sweets! Then I met his mother. I am still convinced to this day that she’d never do a playdate with us because I was overweight at the time. She did one, but that was it. And the kids weren’t allowed to play with the Legos inside, she brought a bicycle for her son to ride, so he’d get some exercise while at our fatty mcfatterson house.

billie
billie
11 years ago

YAY, you!

Crystal Burnham
Crystal Burnham
11 years ago

Can I just tell you how much I enjoy your blogs… I found you by accident and I am so happy I did. You make me feel like I am not alone in this world with the crazy stuff I have to deal with everyday with my kids or just the way I feel in general. I wish I could be the one sitting next to you at those gym classes talking about our kids. Parents today are so worried about everything from sugar to Mcdonalds that they just don’t pay attention. It has gotten to me in ways that I have to just sit back and say “What the hell??” Thank you for your refreshing honesty.

Lauren
11 years ago

Oh I just adore you! You (and many of your readers) give me hope that someday (when I procreate) I can be the kind of parent I want to be and not the kind of parent everyone else tells me I SHOULD be.

Katie
Katie
11 years ago

I feel like that mom ALL the time. My one break of the day–I don’t want to discuss anything that makes my brain hurt! Give me some gossip or something fun! Way to go on the McDonald’s, I totally would have said yes too!

HalynB
HalynB
11 years ago

I love you. When my kids were little, I was totally that parent sitting in the bleachers saying “SERIOUSLY MCFLY?!?! WHAT did you think you were doing there?” I still do that a bit now, even though at 16 and almost 11 they have near-human coordination.

After reading Jonniker’s comment, all I can think of is how frickin cool the neighborhood would be that had Jonniker and Sundry on the same street. Throw in Julie from A Little Pregnant and Julia from Here Be Hippogriffs and I would totally stalk the hell out of that neighborhood. Alexa and Swistle would also be awesome…aw man, why doesn’t this neighborhood exist!!??

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

Girl-you can sit next to me at these classes anytime and make fun of my kids with me! It would be so refreshing!

Amy P
Amy P
11 years ago

I HATE taking my daughter to her Little Gym class. The other mothers are either blabing loudly on their cell phones, or talking to eachother about their organic foods, or over priced new jeans, or their clogged milk ducts (come on, really?) and completly ignoring their kids (not just the ones in class, but their other children running around like a buch of wild howler monkeys destroying the lobby) HATE HATE HATE IT!

I would love to have another mother/parent there who could just sit back, laugh and enjoy the show!

KKF
KKF
11 years ago

WIN

Liz
Liz
11 years ago

Oh man, my husband took my kid to swim lessons on Tuesday and witnessed a different kind of douchebaggery. A mom and her estranged father (not the kid’s dad, HER dad) got into a screaming match on the observation deck for 15 minutes. Apparently, the mom is neglectful because she hasn’t taken her son to the eye doctor in 6 months. Husband says he thought he heard that the kid was born blind but is okay now. Regardless, is this really something you need to be screaming about in front of a pool of children?

Tara
Tara
11 years ago

It’s like parenting is the new high school experience or something, where some people are SO worried about being cool/hip/”right” that they can’t pull their heads out of their asses.

I’m glad not to be in high school anymore (it sucked plenty the first time), so I have no desire to act like that–or be treated like that–now that I’m old enough to opt out of it.

You rock, Linda!

Valria
11 years ago

Linda, I don’t have children, just dogs…
But I have to tell you that your post about hissssssssing at them at Target and posts like this one here got me thinking.

The kids running around Fred Meyer by me don’t really bother me but I can see the pain/worry/frustration on the moms faces.

This weekend when a little boy was running around a clothing rack (from her) and she could not catch him and looked like she was about to lose her shit I left my cart and said to her (but really him), you go that way I’ll go this way we’ll get him.

He squealed with laughter and went running to her. Where she picked him up and buckled him into the cart. In the parking lot, she thanked me. (still looked like she was going to cry)

So even us non-moms like your real life posts.

Trenches of Mommyhood
11 years ago

…and that’s why I kinda love you. I would totally take my kids to Mickey D’s with you.

Mika
Mika
11 years ago

I made fun of my son on facebook for stabbing himself in the eyebrow with a fork during dinner. With picture as proof. So you’re saying that’s not appropriate in some parents’ eyes? Whatever!

Elaine
Elaine
11 years ago

Please move to Maryland and be my friend! I would love to go to McD’s with my two insane boys and you and your kids. The Mommy Rat Race makes me nuts.

Carrie (in MN)
Carrie (in MN)
11 years ago

Mocking our kids is only fair payback for all they put us through. Must warn you, though: eventually they turn on you. You would not believe how much fun my 15 and 11 year olds have making fun of my lack of direction, my technological ineptitude…

Carrie (in MN)
Carrie (in MN)
11 years ago

lack of a “sense of” direction…sheesh.

sarah
sarah
11 years ago

DUUUUUDE. I would so be your friend in that class. And all my friends would be too. Kids are HILAROUS. Why are you surrounded by d-bags?

mary
mary
11 years ago

love you and i so can relate. Where are the real fun parents???

aimee @ smilingmama
11 years ago

LOVE this! It kills me when parents at the park bug their kids not to get wet/dirty/muddy, etc. And so I end up telling my boys to go make me a mud pie or something. But I always feel bad for the other kid who just so badly wants to be a KID!

Emma
Emma
11 years ago

Thank you for being so normal. Sigh.

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

Everything in moderation and they will be so much better for it!! Cupid brought my boys See’s candy (but a few days later the toothfairy dropped off some fab Sonicare kids toothbrushes). It’s all good!

Kate
Kate
11 years ago

I feel the same way. I don’t fit in with any of the moms here. I don’t know if it is because I work 3rd shift and that is weird. Or if I drive the wrong car. Or if I don’t have the right ‘do. I don’t really care, I thought high school was over in, like, 1992. But how I wish I had someone to make fun of my kid with. And Ohsweetjesus especially at skating lessons.

Lesley
Lesley
11 years ago

That’s what I tell myself once a week when I gorge on Miss Vickie’s chips and indulge in a couple of high quality microbrews.

“I’VE BEEN SO GOOD THIS WEEK!”

Livi
Livi
11 years ago

G A H I loathe that ‘parent talk bs’

and the loudness that often accompanies such parent talk bs’ness – like they want EVERYONE to hear.

So annoying (also laughable).

I’d be right there with you laughing…

Kelly
11 years ago

This is why I continue to read your blog. You get me. I was telling my husband the other day that reading your blog and seeing everything that I’m currently thinking and feeling makes me feel better – like I’m not alone. Because I swear the Terrible Three’s my son is going through are going to kill me. And we are “those parents” that don’t really mesh with the Parents of the Douchebaggery that you are talking about. Please don’t ever stop blogging!