Saturday, December 08, 2007

perverted pleasure

During our very first day at gymnastics last week (I think it was last week? I've totally lost track of time), a woman who has had her little girl "Kelsey" enrolled in the class for the past two years, made the comment to me that last semester, there was a woman in the class who had twins. And the twin mom had someone who came with her every single week so that each child had their own adult overseeing them.

She made this comment to me just as William was running for the trampoline, Carolyn was beelining it to the uneven bars, and Elizabeth was heading towards the balance beam - when they should have been doing their stretching exercises on the floor.

When she gave me a smirk and said "Having a 1-to-1 ratio really lets the child know who is in control" I was at a loss for words. For a long moment, I felt embarrassed and irresponsible. It seemed obvious that she was telling me that I needed to have one adult for each of my children. Otherwise, they were surely on track to disrupt the entire class and create mass havoc, absolutely ruining the gymnastics learning experience for all the other children.

Actually, the other child.

The class had a grand total of four students.

Kelsey and my three kids.

I'll admit, the first day was a little tough. The excitement and novelty of a new environment took some getting used to and I spent the majority of the class running around after kids. Since then, I've been wondering if perhaps I should see about bringing someone with me to help. The last thing I'd ever want is for my children to be a disruption and blow Kelsey's shot at making the U.S. gymnastics team in 13 years. Sure, I might think that my kids are obnoxious at times. But I don't want anyone else thinking that.

It's never been a reality for us - having extra hands to help with the children. So, we do the best job we can and go forth with the knowledge that our kids are sometimes going to act like kids. That's why we take them to places - like a peewee gymnastics class - where it's acceptable for children to act their age.

Aside from that, the logistics of bringing help with me to class is complicated. First, I don't have any one readily available that I could call. I certainly don't have three people that I could call, which would be necessary since I have three children in the class, and a baby that requires my attention, too. And unless my help was going to drive and meet me there, I don't have the room in my vehicle for anyone else.

When we went to class this week, I told the children what my expectations were, before we went inside. They need to pay attention to the teacher and to me. They need to only use the equipment that we are supposed to be on. If they don't listen and obey the rules, they will go in to time out, or - the teacher might ask for us to leave the class. I stressed that they really need to cooperate, knowing full well that my three-year olds probably have no understanding of what the word "cooperate" means.

Then, I said a little prayer and held my breath.

The only challenge I faced this week was when the girls climbed on top of a chair and were throwing powder chalk from the bars in to the air. I made them stand against the wall in time-out for a few minutes and for the rest of the class, they did exceptionally well.

But then there was Kelsey.

Kelsey threw a solid temper tantrum from the time she walked in the door until she was dragged back out 45 minutes later. Her mother was at her wits end. Kelsey didn't want to go over the vault backwards. She wanted to go frontwards. Kelsey didn't want to jump over the beanie babies on the beam. She wanted to kick them, as hard as she could. Kelsey also didn't want to jump on the springboard. She wanted to lay down on it, blocking the path for the other more obedient and much better looking students. While Kelsey was throwing her fit, my kids were standing in line, waiting their turns.

Henry, who has slept through all of the other classes was wide awake and when he started to fuss, I picked him up, loaded him in to the Bjorn and was nursing him while walking across a balance beam, demonstrating to my three children how to do a "dip-step".

Meanwhile, Kelsey's mother was chasing down her daughter, brushing the hair back from her sweaty brow and pleading with her three-year old, "Kelsey, Kelsey, please sweetie. You need to do it this way. Like this. See how mommy does it? Kelsey, KELSEY. Over here. We are over HERE now. Kelsey. Kelsey. Kelsey. Don't do that. Kelsey. Kelsey. Please stand up. Kelsey. Please don't lick the floor. Kelsey. KELSEY MARIE."

If it wasn't bad enough that I was breastfeeding a baby at the YMCA, I'm sure some people might think it was deplorable that I told a little girl, "Kelsey, if you don't listen to your mother, I am going to roll you in a flour tortilla and eat you for lunch."

Kelsey stopped in her tracks and gave me a shocked look.

But she wasn't nearly as surprised as her mother when I asked "Hmm, I wonder if you had a 2-to-1 ratio today, if Kelsey would better understand who is in control?"

And then, I laughed. Although cackle might be a better description.


  1. Nice. I was rooting for an ending such as that.

    The kids sound like they are doing great. You can't have multiple people there to chase them all over the place, it isn't feesible.

    They will settle down. This is why you put 3-year-olds in classes, right? To find out what they like, to teach them that it is more fun to participate as a group and take instruction and turns. Good grief. Kelsey's mom needs to get a grip.

    My 3-year-old is taking an hour long dance class that starts at 4 PM. By 4:45 she is tired and not really paying attention. I get some looks from other moms occasionally but whatever. The teacher handles it. She says she expects 3-year-olds to act like that.

  2. That's awesome!

    I used to teach gymnastics... starting with kids that were 3. It was a lot of fun, but complete chaos! Enjoy your time, and don't fret one bit over Kelsey and her mom!


    I love it when "perfect" mothers have to eat some crow.

  4. All I can say is, GOOD FOR YOU!!

  5. in my deepest laughter HAAHA HAAAA

  6. I think I love you for this post.

  7. Brilliant! I am THRILLED that you said that out loud (I only would have thought it, hours later after I had gone to bed of something).

  8. High Five, Jen! You. are. AWESOME! That woman (and her daughter) only deserved what was coming to her.

  9. Revenge is sweet. I love it when know-it-all singleton moms have a little hellion on their hands.

  10. Seriously, what is wrong with people? I might have put my boot up her ass, but you handled it beautifully.

    I can't stand getting "the look" from parents when my kids aren't participating properly in class. They're KIDS, not actual gymnasts and ballerinas. It's supposed to be FUN, not drudgery.

    Let your kids run rampant-that's what I do. Let the teacher direct if possible-that's what you're paying for anyway. The kids will probably follow her instruction more than yours.

  11. BWAAHAHAH!!! Tou'shea

  12. vety the nuts mom12/8/07, 11:11 PM

    bwah ha ha!!

    please, I can have a 4 to 1 ratio and I STILL wouldn't be in control and I've only got 2. Jen, any time you want to do a boot camp and have my kids over, let me know. I'm sure you could whip them into shape!! :)

  13. Lol that's funny.

  14. Actually, Jen, I think you are amazing. you are looking after *three* active, inquisitive (very very cute) toddlers when many mothers such as myself think that even *one* is too much.

    In addition to that, you have a nursing baby. You take them shopping by yourself (no small feat), take them out for walks (wow!) and find the time to write intelligent posts. And funny ones (the one about the rat last week).

    Aaah, you courageous courageous woman! you also showed somebody else's toddler who is boss, *and* made her mother eat her words..

    Well done!!


    ahh, poetic justice. us mums need to see you more when drive-by parenting happens.

    i never say stuff like that out loud, only in my head or muttered under my breath as i drive away, kicking myself for being a loser and not sticking up for my kids when they damn well deserve it.

    you are my hero.

  16. This is a great story! GOOD FOR YOU!

    Our gymnastic class sounds so different from yours. In my daughter's class of 3-5 year olds, parents are not allowed out on the floor.

    There are 15 kids and about 5 instructors. They do some things in a group, like stretching and the obstacle course, and then break into three groups of 5 toddlers each. Then those five work on the balance beam, or the uneven bars, or the vault, whatever (and later switch so each group visits each of the three stations), with the help of their instructor at each station.

    I like to sit in the bleachers and chat with other moms -- I don't want to do gymnastics. Your class sounds chaotic and it seems like the instructor should be in charge, not the parents. I'm not sure what you can do about it, though.

    But I sure love how you handled today!!


  17. Aaah Ha Ha!!! Was her name changed to protect her identity? Loved that story! I wish I thought of comebacks that quickly. My brilliant ones come to be the next day. Dang! Good for you for telling her like it is and for threatening to eat her daughter!!!!

  18. It's me again.

    I just can't stop thinking about KELSEY MARIE!! and I believe that she and her mother are going to be a real treat during the junior high years. I see a Mean Girl in the making, with a mother in total denial. What fun she's going to be to all the other 13-year-olds.

    Guess what phase of parenting we're in right now...?

  19. I am cackling right along with you! I wonder if Kelsey Marie and her mother will show up with an extra set of hands next week...

  20. Love that you were able to get a good cackle in at the end!

  21. Hilarious!! I'm soooo glad you were able to actually say that to her.... I can't get my brain and mouth to work together fast enough for a comeback like that!!

  22. LOL LOL LOL!
    You go girl!
    CLEARLY Kelsey's mom was feeling very very jealous of you, superwoman/wondermom!!! Four kids with you, nursing a baby while doing dip steps, are you kidding?! You're an inspiration in your wonderful attitude and dedication to your fantastic kids.

  23. i REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hope you said all that. those kind of snide comments make me want to hurl...and kick the one that says them. good for you. :)

  24. karen in buffalo12/9/07, 1:01 PM

    You are the reason I finally took my girls to the grocery store all by myself last week. You are the reason I finally took my girls to the mall all by myself this week. You are an inspiration and I admire and applaud you for all that you do and are for your beautiful kids.
    Let us know how the next class goes with Kelsey Marie!

  25. Yea Jen. I'm sure Kelsey and her mother will have many such moments in the future. LOL

  26. I love you Jen. I had the very same fellings during many mother child classes when I was the only adult with three and sometimes four children. Often times my kids did better than a lot of singletons. But sometimes they didn't and I would go home licking my wounds. But I'd put my game face on and go back. I'm so glad you said that to Kelsey's mom or I would driven down there and bitch slapped her fo you! Keep up the good work! You're doing a great job!

  27. I am sure it felt good to laugh and put it back in her face. It always amazes me how people just don't get what having triplets (multiples) means. How does she expect you to have two other people join you for gymnastics? That is just crazy!

    I am glad it went in your favor.


  28. Cackling with you, not at you!

    Good for you!

  29. LOL! Love this post!

    You linked to a Toronto Newspaper online (The Star). That's a fairly local paper for me (well, it's the "big city" paper I suppose. I live just North of Toronto). My boyfriend lives in Scarborough... I never heard of that YMCA thing. How stupid! LOL.

    Too good! I'm glad you got that woman back for her ridiculous comment! (LOTS of people take their children places without a 1-to-1 ratio! GEEEZE!).

  30. you go girl! that was awesome!

  31. Me and my wife had a good laugh, good job! :)

    Tony's Daily Blog

  32. Triple high fives to you!!! I can't believe the audacity of that woman. How rude! But she got her comeuppance in the end.


  33. - I read your blog a lot and I really like your view of things, what you have to say, and your way with words, as well as how proficient you are at handling 4 young children. But I have to say I am disappointed you would really say that to the mom with the unruly child. I would have really thought you would have taken the high road even though she was in the wrong to say what she did. Sometimes silence speaks much more than words.

    I posted anon because I know my opinion may not be of value to you, but I wanted to say this. But I do still like your blog and think you are doing great with your kids. I just hate to see anyone try to make a point at the expense of someone else's poor circumstances.

    I am so happy that you stood up for multiple moms everywhere! We had a somewhat similar experience at the airport traveling over Thanksgiving weekend. An elderly (okay let's be honest OLD) woman in a wheelchair at baggage claim -- She was being pushed around by an airport employee. She looked right at my quietly sitting there 10 month old twins and very loudly proclaimed -- "That is just terrible! In my day we never traveled with babies. We left them home until they were old enough to go with us."
    Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) I couldn't hear her because I flew with a cold and was deaf from the pressure change, but luckily my husband shot back -- "That's funny. We feel the same way about old people in wheelchairs." -- It was worth her dropped jaw.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for striking a blow for multiples everywhere.

  35. Anon: Is that YOU mom??

    I try to always take the highroad and never say anything to intentionally hurt people's feelings. With triplets and a new baby, I have PLENTY of opportunities with some of the zinger comments I receive.

    Kelsey's mom was clearly frustrated with her daughter. She was profusely apologizing to me and the teacher. When I talked with her after class, I stressed that at THIS age, hopefully no one (especially people in a peewee gymnastics class) is going to expect her 3-year old daughter to be perfect. What I've discovered is it doesn't MATTER the number of hands available - there is only "so much" control you can have over a young child without losing your mind.

    It's all good. She's coming over for a play date next week.


    You are doing great, don't allow that other people put their thoughts at your kids education,
    I have a mother in law that was trying to tell me how to do with my ADHD kid.., she doesn't understand that he has some problems, and always was trying to make me feel like a bad mom, until I stop her...!
    We are the moms, nobody else deal with our kids every day ;)

  37. i'm one of the many applauding you for your quick thinking and guts to speak what you think.
    my rejoinders are alwasy way too late.

  38. When I was pregnant with the twins and when the twins were infants, SO MANY PEOPLE said, "Oh, well of course you'll HAVE to have help"--like I was just pointlessly resisting all the free excellent assistance available to me.