Posted by: laughs4dads | January 21, 2010

Chic and Social at Seven Months

When my daughter, Casey was born, my family moved to a bigger place in a new neighborhood.  Often, when people move to new neighborhoods, they join all sorts of organizations so that they can fit in and make friends as quickly as possible.

Upon moving to Irvington, my wife, Barbara and I did not join one organization.  Casey, on the other hand, joined dozens.

Among them were franchised operations run by local women whose main qualification was the ability to act and think like a one-year old, and to memorize the lyrics to songs like “Three Little Duckies” and “Three Little Monkeys,” a task made easier by the fact that these songs all appear to have the same melody.

Lest you think these remarkably juvenile women are left totally to their own devices, they are assisted by a cornucopia of large, padded objects that look like someone changed the wall decor of an insane asylum and shaped the old padding into barrels, tunnels, mats and all sorts of things on which, through which and under which small human beings can crawl, slither, bounce, tumble, fall, balance and punch each other.

When I came home from work on days when Casey had attended one of these sessions, I was given reports on her accomplishments, which generally included obtaining black eyes, scratched cheeks and numerous bruises.  I wondered if she might not have a lucrative future as a sparring partner.

I inquired, after each of these lurid tales of yanked hair, terrifying tackles and brute shoves, if Casey had any instinct for self-preservation and, if not, whether Barbara had managed to get in a few swift kicks to the little heads of the offending parties.

“She’s not very aggressive,” Barbara said of our blue-eyed, blonde-haired, scarred-cheeked angel.  Of course, I could barely hear her, as Casey was busy aggressively banging a plastic hammer on our glass-topped coffee table.  “She doesn’t really defend herself.”

“Aren’t there any ‘Mommy and Me’ karate classes she can take?” I asked.
Barb ignored me.  “It’s just her nature.  Some kids are aggressive, some are passive.  Some are dominant, some submissive.”

It seemed a bit early to be assigning sexual preferences.  “Are you telling me she’s destined to get beat up all her life?”

“Remember, she’s small.  Most of the kids are older than she is.  I think she keeps up pretty well.”

My alarm had turned to pride.  My daughter was a Gymboree genius.  I glowed as Barbara described how well Casey paid attention during the songs.  “She applauds at the end and everything,” Barbara said.

To demonstrate, Barbara sang “Three Little Monkeys”, complete with appropriate hand motions, and, sure enough, Casey stopped hammering the fireplace grating and crawled over to listen.  At the end, she sat up and tried to clap, although her hands met only occasionally.

I figured a few bumps and bruises were okay as long as our daughter would grow up to give good standing ovations.

Of course, the real reason for joining all these organizations was so the mothers could meet each other and form “Play Groups.”  A “play group” is a select number of kids and mothers who meet once or more a week at someone’s house so that the kids can beat each other up and the mothers can eat donuts.  This is, in fact, very much like Gymboree, except it is not franchised, no money is made, and the padded playthings are replaced by something called “furniture.”  Also, no donuts are served at Gymboree.  Also, play group is by invitation only.  Which is to say, only good-looking babies were allowed.

In case you think that all babies but your own look alike, I beg to differ.  If you take the general baby population as a whole, you’ll notice that sprinkled in among the cherubs are a few that look like Jabba the Hutt.   There were none of these babies in Casey’s play group; Casey’s friends all looked like they stepped out of a Pampers ad.

Barbara denied this was the result of a conscious effort, and swore the selection had been made for the sake of geographic convenience, but it appeared to me to be a hell of a coincidence that there were no ugly babies in our town.  I think that the mothers had it in the backs of their minds that these babies would be friends all their lives, and that they were forming a toddler “in” crowd that would grow up, en masse, to be a teen-aged “in” crowd that would hang out together in shopping malls.

To bear this theory out, I noticed that already there were fashion dictates; not one member of the clan would be caught dead without a pair of OshKosh overalls.

Exclusive or not, I thought it was great that Casey had so many friends at such a young age, although somehow I didn’t think it was appropriate that she had more friends than I had.




  1. Thanks for the memories…..I think we all have very long umbilical cords attaching us to those wonderful days gone by…..We might have done some random adult selection to make the bonds we still hold today……Keep me “posted”. All the best.

  2. LOL!
    I remember it all, even the pride in the least accomplishment.

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