Feral Cat Herding — Take 2

Did you know that 2 out of 3 fistfights between the mothers of toddlers take place in the parking lot of a gym?  You didn’t know that?  Well, that’s because I made up that statistic, but based upon my experience this week at The Beast’s gymnastics class, it seems entirely probable that I’m going to get the crap beat out of me at some point within the next few weeks.

Tuesday started out lovely.  I was in a good mood.  I was cheery.  I might have even said something nice to my husband before he left for work that day.  At the very least I didn’t insult him or call him a name.  You know, I was all positive and full of rainbows and butterflies.

The only discernible cause of this ill-advised cheeriness is that in the time between last Thursday’s class and this Tuesday’s class I drank enough wine to cause an hallucination wherein a benevolent spirit entered The Beast and expelled the voices of evil that compel him to create chaos and disorder.  Had I been in my right mind, I would have known that gymnastics day would, without a doubt, descend into mayhem and possible violence.

The Beast and I arrived at gymnastics just a little bit early.  This was a new class for us.  The scheduling conflict mentioned in the previous post caused us to switch to the Tuesday class.  I was hoping to meet the other mothers prior to class and do a nice, big preemptive apology.  Maybe my new cheery smiley-ness would be what they would remember, and not so much the fact that their daughters were likely going to suffer from PTSD flashbacks every time they watch the Summer Olympics.

Upon walking in the door, we met two lovely mothers and their beautiful sparkly-leotard-encased daughters.  The sequins on their leotards must have been coated in pacifier drool, which apparently acts as some sort of baby pheromone, because The Beast immediately insisted on sitting on the steps with these two precious little girls.  I released him with a stern warning of “You listen today!”

In his excitement to join the pretty girls, he stubbed his toe on the step.  So next he did what any supervillain would do.  He sat down two steps higher than the girls, stuck his bare foot in between their cherubic faces and said, “Girls, kiss it.”  Dear Lord, who is this child?  And when did lechery become one of his superpowers?

Before I had the opportunity to win the mothers over with my charm and wit, the door to the toddler room opened and there stood Ms. I’m About To Earn That $30 from last week. Poor lady.  She had no idea that in addition to being a disobedient runner, The Beast had recently turned into a pervert who demanded that people kiss his feet.

The class itself was pretty much an exact duplicate of the previous week’s class, except that this week there were five little girls and The Beast.  And while I had been assured that there would be two instructors in the class, there was only one.  It’s entirely possible that the assistant had heard of The Beast’s treachery and decided to call in sick.  Who can know?

Realizing that The Beast’s behavior had not been transformed by the miracle I’m sure she was praying for, Ms. I’m About To Earn That $30 decided that her only hope was to contain him.  Since she did not have access to a cage, leash or shock collar, she used the only containment device she had: her thighs.  Every time The Beast ran away, she’d catch him, take him to wherever she was going to sit or stand, and clamp him between her thighs.  It was fascinating to watch for a period, but after a while her thigh muscles failed and The Beast escaped.

She gave him a stern lecture about the need to stay with his red circle.  He quickly realized he could obey the letter of the law by simply picking up his red circle and carrying it around the gym with him.  So while the other gymnasts were sitting calmly in a semicircle and stretching their legs, The Beast was hanging from a bar by one hand and holding his red circle in the other.

During the stretches, a mom I had never seen before peered over the rail into the gym and sternly instructed her daughter to “use your Goodnight Toes.”  What the frack are Goodnight Toes?  Does everyone have them?  Is this gym code for “kick the crap out of the evil boy next to you”?  She had code words to instruct her daughter’s behavior, while I was just praying that my son’s behavior would not create future therapy bills for those exposed to him.   Either way, I knew that this mother — I’m going to call her Ms. Snooty Pants — was now my nemesis.  I’ve always wanted a nemesis.  This was my lucky day.

The difference in our approach to toddler gymnastics was one thing, but our differences were about to be made infinitely worse when, during a period of free dance, The Beast noticed that Ms. Snooty Pants’s daughter had separated herself from the rest of the group.  And much like a predator stalks its prey, The Beast approached her with a look in his eye and a swagger in his walk that I would say resembled the approach a patron at a strip club would use to request a lap dance from a stripper.

My 2-year-old not only hears the voices of everyday supervillains in his head, but he also hears the voices of the skeevy men featured on To Catch a Predator.

I was not making friends.

I instructed The Beast to leave the girl alone and secretly said a prayer that the other mothers were not under the impression that The Beast was exposed to that sort of behavior at home, although I felt pretty confident that they assumed that I cook dinner while wearing tasseled pasties and then dance on the pole in my living room for post-meal entertainment.

I then decided that instead of focusing on getting The Beast to behave, I would focus solely on preventing any additional episodes of sexual harassment.

Toward the end of class The Beast decided he was quite done with gymnastics, and since I was no longer allowing him to grind on the other students, he chose to escape the gym.  I ran down the stairs to catch him and discovered Ms. Snooty Pants standing at the front desk, complaining about the lack of control the teacher had over the class because of the issues created by The Beast.  Two additional employees, who I assume had been cowering in a locker room out of fear, appeared out of nowhere and were quickly dispatched to the toddler room to assist with the class.

Even though class was not over for another 10 minutes, I figured it was best for me to take The Beast home early.  I walked back upstairs to grab my things, and Ms. Snooty Pants said, “Well, she’s got lots of help down there now.”  She said it with a smile.  But it wasn’t a real smile.  It was a polite, southern lady’s smile.  The one they use when they want to say something like “You’re a giant fat lard butt,” but that wouldn’t be polite, so they smile through gritted teeth and say, “So, Sweetie, how much weight are you trying to put on?”

So even though the words of her comment were innocent enough, all I heard was, “Hey, Sucky Mom, I did what you should have done 45 minutes ago and got some help for the class so that the rest of our children don’t have to sacrifice their future Olympic dreams because of your sexually aggressive 2-year-old.”

In my head I responded with, “Your daughter will never make it to the Olympics.  Her Goodnight Toes are pathetic,” and then I imagined us getting into a fight that ended when she pulled out a shiv she had whittled out of a Zweiback teething biscuit and I smacked her in the head with the bottle of vodka in my diaper bag and sent her sailing over the observation deck into the gym below.

Don’t worry.  I’m not that evil.  Even in my imagination she landed safely on a mat.

After she bounced off the balance beam.

3 thoughts on “Feral Cat Herding — Take 2

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