Monday, March 16, 2009

Gymboree Rots


I don't know if it's just a city thing, but everyone in Chicago starts stressing about where they will send their kids to preschool the first time they have unprotected sex with their husband. I'm told this process involves a lot of strategizing, most of which occurs before the baby is released from the hospital. Or before it is even conceived. If you want to send your child to a Catholic pre-school, you should probably join the associated church before the kid is born so it doesn't look so obvious you're only joining to get the better time slot in their coveted pre-K program.  I bet God frowns on that sort of thing.

My girls were inconsiderate enough to be born in November, meaning they don't make the September 1 cut-off so I can't cart them off to pre-school until they are almost four. In the meantime, I am obsessed with taking them to all kinds of classes, mainly because everyone else around here is so you feel like a neglectful parent if your baby isn't simultaneously enrolled in WiggleWorms, Gymboree and Musical Magic, where they eat instruments and don cowboys hats while the moms sing On the Road Again by Hank Williams.  I need a damn Blackberry just to know where I'm supposed to be every hour.  To further torture mothers, the Chicago Public Library just instituted a sign-up only story time.  Who ever heard of "registering" for a free story time??? I almost missed the deadline which caused mass panic on my part because everyone knows babies who don't attend story time at 16 months old will never get into college.

We went to exactly one Gymboree class. I had a free pass and was so disturbed I will never go back, bubble time and cool parachute withstanding.  If my offspring develop mental problems I plan to sue Gymboree -- I think I can make a valid case they were irreparably damaged during that 45 minutes.  I won't go into it but let's just say I think the "teacher" may be wanted in several states and I was ready to call in an anticipatory Amber Alert. Regardless of criminal intent, she damaged my eardrums with high notes that perked up the ears of all canines within a 10-mile radius.  

Dear Gymboree hiring manager: if the teachers are expected to sing during class, please make them audition during the interviewing process.  Also, please don't call me 35 times after the trial class to "remind me" I need to sign up ASAP (!!!) to get $20 off the enrollment fee. I've had stalkers who called me less. And I know we are in a recession, but when $20 becomes such an urgent matter that I'm about to file a restraining order, kindly shoot me.  The first message was left with such fervor and distress I thought I forgot one of my kids there or something.

I also have unresolved anger with the Chicago Park District. I signed the girls up for a "play group" once per week and upon our arrival was told there was a pre-requisite so they weren't eligible.  A pre-requisite for a play group for 10-to-17 month olds.  I wrote a series of hate letters and they have since dropped the pre-requisite requirement.  I guess the joke will be on me when my kids don't "play" correctly and feel like they jumped right from geometry to calculus.

Speaking of which, I must go over there now and show birth certificates to prove my girls are in the correct age range. Because I guess sneaking your kids into classes for the wrong age group is a real problem in Chicago... 


  1. oh you are damn funny girl. yup, same insanity over here in san diego. i about laughed out loud when the preschool administrator called to tell me over-excitedly "congratulations!!!", you've gotten into Sandy Hill Nursery School. ((????!!!))

  2. Fo' Sure, Gymboree sucks balls.
    The male (um, weird) teacher was so speedy-Gonzales in his singing of Itsy-Bitsy spider that I needed a valium (or two) afterwards. Needless-to-say, I never went back. Check out My Gym, it's pretty cute.

    And yes, nursery school is just as competitive here. I f

    elt like a real loser when one of my friends nonchalantly dropped that she secured (one of the daddies), Slash, to perform (I almost said "sing"...WTF) at her daughters pre-school prom. You heard that right.

    And it never ends...


  3. I think that obsession with getting kids in just the right classes and activities is universal. I never bought into it. Because I'm a terrible mother.

    I decided to just save the Gymboree money and save it for all of the therapy my children will need when they grow up. That way, their sobby sessions on a shrink couch about how their mother ruined their lives forever because she refused to sign them up for toddler cello lessons will at least be paid in full.

    BTW, I'm over here from Smart Ass Mom's blog. I guess we both got awards today. Because we're special that way :-)

  4. We did the free Gymboree session and I decided it was not the place from us when my daughter spent the entire time cowering behind me, crying and screaming whenever the "teacher" came close. And the singing was AWFUL.

  5. I too did the free Gymboree class; and I too was smart enough not to get sucked into their crazy cult.

    We love the free library classes, thank you very much!

  6. Ok this is the part of parenting that scares me. I don't have kids yet. However, I listen to my friends with kids discuss preschool, home schooling and should we enroll in preschool if home schooling, because then we'll have to reprogram them blah blah blah...scary and strange

  7. Well, they are girls. They may start lying about their age any day now. You know, so that they can be younger.

  8. Will you come write some letters for me? You're wicked smaht and funny as hell!!

  9. I have tears running down my face because I have been laughing so hard at your post.

    I live in NYC, and the Gymboree employees are just as rabid, tone-deaf and desperate as they seem to be in Chicago. Must be a pre-requisite.

    I haven't been to a class with my 2 year old for over a year, but was still accosted by the manager on the subway platform with an insincere, "How ARE you? We have a drop-off program now. Call me. Call me. I'll call you by end of week." I don't think she took a breath....