In an effort to help The Beast expend some of his utterly eternal energy (crap, that’s a lot of unintentional alliteration) and to attempt to quench his recently developed need to dive headfirst and backwards off of my furniture, I signed him up for a toddler gymnastics class. Seemed relatively innocuous. Big padded room with balls and hoops. Really, what could go wrong?
Let me tell you, everything can go wrong.
We arrived a few minutes early so I could buy the appropriate clothing for a 2-year-old gymnast, which apparently consists of polyester blue shorts and a t-shirt with the gym’s name on it. And it only cost me $30. At the time, I kind of felt like I was being financially raped since my son had to wear the gym-issued, overpriced polyester shorts, but in light of the horror the gym was about to experience courtesy of The Beast, it really seems like I got the better deal.
As I stood at the front desk holding The Beast and writing out the check for the costume…uniform…whatever you call the clothing that you’re forced to buy so your kid can run around a gym for an hour, The Beast proudly announced, “Mom, I’m poopin’.” Yeah, he’s cute that way. The lady at the front desk didn’t seem overly horrified, but she really should have taken the verbal announcement of his bowel movement as a sign of the things to come. Stupid front desk lady.
We went into the restroom where I changed him and put on his snazzy new gym clothes. The Beast was quite pleased with his bright shirt and itchy shorts and was ready to tackle the gym.
We approached the toddler room and I overheard a dad say to his little girl, “If you need to tee-tee during class, let us know. We’ll be right upstairs watching you.” Immediately I knew this class was going to be interesting. These parents had potty trained their very young 2-year-old daughter. First, that meant that they exhibited some sort of control over their child. And second, it was proof that the little girl, I’ll call her Little Miss Perfect, was a student of self-control and self-discipline, while my son had just announced to the entire front-office staff of the gym that he was in the process of poopin’. This was going to be a fun hour.
The Beast jumped right out of my hands and into the arms of the teacher. I’ll call her Ms. I’m About To Earn That $30. The Beast started to run around the room, which was filled with mats and balance beams and hoops, and I went upstairs to observe from above. The Beast was thrilled for about 5 minutes as he tore around the room bouncing off of the padded walls. Then Ms. I’m About To Earn That $30 attempted to make him sit on a blue square. Apparently he hates blue squares because he instantly started screaming. Or maybe he hates being told what to do. Yeah, that’s probably it.
So for the next 15 minutes, Ms. I’m About To Earn That $30 held The Beast, who screamed nonstop, and tried to lead the other students in a rousing game of Follow the Leader. The two other students looked at The Beast in a mixture of awe and confusion. Why is he screaming? What does he know that we don’t know? Is something bad going to happen?
The Beast’s screaming acted as some sort of primal call to the other children, and they started screaming, too. I sat above in the observation deck, laughing to myself and apologizing to the other parents for what was about to happen.
Realizing she now had no control over the class of only three 2-year-olds, Ms. I’m About To Earn That $30 called in the front desk lady, I’ll call her Ms. Feral Cat Wrangler, and asked her to try to control The Beast so that the class wouldn’t devolve into utter chaos. At this point all three of the children were screaming and crying. They went to the trampoline and screamed and cried as they jumped. Then they jumped into a pit of foam blocks and screamed and cried some more. Finally, after 15 minutes of screaming and crying, the children were taken to the floor balance beams, and The Beast, who loves walking on narrow objects such as the back of my couch, instantly stopped crying and the two little girls followed.
I again apologized to the parents of Little Miss Perfect and the other student and encouraged them that due to a scheduling issue, we were going to be switching to the Tuesday class so they wouldn’t have to worry about their precious girls being exposed to The Beast again. They did not attempt to hide their relief. Apparently they do not have their children in the class for energy-expenditure purposes and are actually attempting to grow some Mary Lou Rettons.
On the gym floor, the kids were taking turns walking across the beams. Well, the little girls were taking turns. The Beast would walk across the beams at the behest of what I assume are the voices of supervillains in his head. Ms. I’m About To Earn That $30 and Ms. Feral Cat Wrangler told the students to sit on the mat and wait until their name was called. Apparently The Beast does not know his name, because he would go to the beam only when they didn’t call his name. Then when they called his name, he sat stone still. He’s brilliant that way.
At one point Ms. Feral Cat Wrangler forgot that her intended purpose was to control The Beast and she began assisting one of the little girls on the beams. This lapse left The Beast unattended with nothing but the voices of evil in his head. Realizing his potential freedom to run amok throughout the gym, The Beast bolted from his spot on the mat and started a spirited game of You Can’t Catch Me. Ms. I’m About To Earn That $30 gave chase all the while screaming “I didn’t call your name yet.” She eventually caught The Beast and brought him back to the mat. Little Miss Perfect, seeing the unadulterated joy on The Beast’s face, decided it might be fun to run and also bolted from the mat. At this point, Ms. Feral Cat Wrangler looked up to the observation deck and stated, “I’m too old for this.” She had broken.
The class continued this way for another 30 minutes. The instructors would desperately try to get The Beast to stay on his color until his name was called. He’d escape at the first opportunity and Ms. Feral Cat Wrangler would give chase. Then they’d look up at me with a look that would be best described as soul-crushing exhaustion. Then I’d laugh and apologize all over again. At one point I gave them permission to use whatever means necessary to contain The Beast. I told them they could yell at him, grab him by the shirt to stop him from running away. Clothesline him if necessary. But considering he’s a supervillain, I’m pretty sure that only a superhero can stop him.
At the end of class, I apologized again for his behavior. They commented that he was incredibly spirited (which translates to potentially evil) and fast (which is obviously one of his supervillain powers). I then encouraged them that hopefully he’ll get better with time.
I’ve been the mother of this supervillain for 2 years. It’s not going to get better. Ever. One day he’ll assume his full supervillain identity and it’ll be the world’s problem. Until then, I’m just going to laugh and continue carrying a flask in my diaper bag.