Ok, it’s 10am so let’s do an inventory,
- Kitchen tidied, check
- Washing on, check
- Toys picked up, check
- Baby James down for his morning sleep, check (except I can hear him singing away from his room)
- Kettle boiled, check
It could almost be a perpetual start to this blog. That’s the routine thing that I’ve come to trust but which can wear you down in a ‘groundhog day’ sense. But today is Gymboree day.
(By the way I was going to write about how it was that I became the House Dad, but I think Gymboree will be a far more enjoyable topic. I have already started trying to write about the ‘How I became the House Dad’ and it has a bit of a glum feel to it, which isn’t the emotion I want to convey because I’m not in a ‘wo is me’ situation, though there are a few challenges to discuss.)
Anyway, today Baby James and I go to Gymboree. It’s my only real concession to a strange world that is dominated by women. I couldn’t bring myself to going to a ‘Mother’s Group’. I’m extremely prejudiced on the subject. I have a mindset that thinks they’re like an ultra extreme organisation that will take no prisoners on the subjects of breast-feeding, smacking, home-births or lamington recipes. So I’ve absented myself.
Instead Baby James and I go to Gymboree. I guess it’s like most playgroups that charge a session fee, it is fairly structured with an exciting (Baby James’ description) use of primary colours, soft fall mats, song and movement, bubbles, parachutes and puppets. The group leader (Gail) is a legend for her creative ideas and enthusiasm and when she sings, well Baby James’ attention goes to her instantly.
We’ve been going since Baby James was about 4 months old, once a week for an hour. He’s moved from Stage 1, through Stage 2 and he is now in Stage 3. Oh I am such a competitive dad, believing that I have the cleverest son as he goes up the grades in quick succession. I frequently come home and tell My Sweet of all the things that Baby James can do that others can’t. Yes, it is a pissing competition and I can piss a fair way.
On their promotional brochure, Gymboree suggest that in the early stages, activities are designed for socialising babies. Well, James hasn’t quite grasped this concept yet. What he has grasped, frequently, are other babies. He doesn’t understand ‘gentle’ when he’s investigating the facial features of his peers and having been on the receiving end of some of his pulls, pinches and scratches, I can tell you, they hurt. So I’m always vigilant to my anti-social son’s actions.
Another thing, Baby James does not understand the concept of sharing. I know that it’s a concept that can create existential intellectual debate, i.e. ‘is the concept of sharing actually just another way to exercise power over another?’, ‘with whom do we have an obligation to share?’, ‘why can’t there be enough for everyone to have one, so there is no need to share?’ So, again, I’m on the lookout for situations that might be turned into ‘learning opportunities’ since we don’t want the other parents (mostly mothers) talking about Baby James or worse still Baby James’ dad.
Lucky for me Gymboree has boxes and boxes of balls. They’re different sizes, shapes, colours and textures. And Baby James loves balls. When Group Leader Gail announces that the focus of today’s session will be, say … climbing, Baby James goes, Ok, so where are those balls again. And that for me is a lucky thing because any amount of anti-social stuff can be stopped via the distraction of a ball.
So, It’s now 10.30 and we have to be going by 11am and I can hear Baby James still singing. He hasn’t had any sleep yet. Gymboree might not go so well today. I hope the humble ball is ready to weave its magic spell.