Friday, August 26, 2011

Hip Hip Hooray, it's a Gymboree Day!!!!!

Proverbs 16:18

Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.

   Wednesdays are the day that I take my ten month old son to Gymboree. Gymboree (for those who don't know) is a children's place where they offer structured play for little ones, that is "secretly" designed to help them build strength and learn motor skills.

     When my daughter was a toddler, my husband and I enrolled her. At that time, I HATED it. It was offered in an area that was less than friendly to people of color, so my family and I were somewhat "outcasted", and never really made to feel welcomed, even by the owner/operator (although our checks were cashed in manner that certainly didn't speak to their being any color barrier) . But 15 years later, I hoped that attitudes had changed. I took my son and was happy to find that they had. Gymboree is still offered in the same exact area, but I guess time changes (most) everything, color lines have blurred, and now, all are welcomed.

     I started taking my son to Gymboree when he was 4 months old. Once he learned how to sit up (5 months), he was promoted to the next level class. I was a proud mom. My 5 month old son was promoted to a class that was billed as being for 6 - 10 month olds. The new class was a lot more interesting. Instead of just laying on his back, looking up at the ceiling, while I ran my fingers up and down his body, and gave him "baby" massages, in the new class the world was his. He could explore (with the help of mommy) slides, and tunnels, and inner tubes, and even the "crawl-igator." He was the youngest in the class, so it was no big deal that his only claim to fame was the he could sit up unassisted for several minutes at a time. "He's still so little", the teacher insisted, as I attempted to encourage him to crawl up or down something.

     Weeks became months, and after a while, he was no longer the youngest in the class. But still, he wasn't crawling. Younger babies would race pass him on all fours, and he would watch...unimpressed and uninterested. I decided in my mind that he would crawl by 7 months, so that he could "catch up" to the others. Before  knew it, he was on the cusp of turning 8 months, and was no closer to crawling than he had been at 5 or 6 months. I scheduled an appointment with the doctor. Before the appointment, I was talking to a friend, telling her how I probably wouldn't have this expectation of him crawling at 7 months, if other kids at Gymboree weren't doing it. Now, I felt so much pressure for him to crawl that it kept me up at night. I debated with myself about dropping our membership. I even considered taking a leave of absence until he started to crawl. My friend said, "Imagine that. The baby not crawling at 7 months, embarrassing you at Gymboree."

     Was it pride? Was the pressure I was putting on my son to make it down that "purple wedge" on all fours about me, and not him? After a fruitless doctor appointment, and even a visit to a physical therapist (maybe he's too weak physically to crawl), where I was told that there was nothing physically preventing my son from crawling, (the physical therapist put it this way, "he's just not motivated to crawl.") that I decided that it was pride. He would crawl when he was ready, and not a minute before that time.

     No longer is Gymboree a place I dread visiting each week. No longer do I force my baby to struggle down the "purple wedge" for my benefit. Now, we go and enjoy the things he can do successfully. We laugh with each other, and share secret smiles. We hug, and engage...just the way that the creators of Gymboree probably envisioned parent and baby doing. And when we leave, it's with happiness, not disappointment.

     So, today I honestly felt it when I tossed my beautiful, barely-crawling, ten month old son into the air and said, "Hip hip hooray, it's a Gymboree day!!!!!!"

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