Zoey had her first session of gymnastics this morning...her first session without Mom...as a "big girl" as she'd say. We were excited. She's at that age where she could absolutely benefit from structure and the company of others, and all of the lessons learned from a group of other unruly funsters...like how to wait in line (still learning that one), how to follow instructions (not bad), and how to get along with boys (better). Strangely, it's Daddy that might need more training. It's my social skills that are in question.
I loathe gymnastics parents...loathe them. Hockey parents...bad rap, and deservedly so, but often enough, they are just the same as you and me. Gymnastics parents...oh my...they're all Bebe designer frames, pink Lulu Lemon sweaters, hair highlghts, and Tom's Shoes. There are a lot of iPhones and even some downtrodden, well worked over men, but mostly there is narcissism, but narcissism in it's most socially accepted and promoted form...the middle class to upper middle class sports parent. More specifically, one of two kinds...the sport parent who never, ever cared about, or orbited around sports but who now does...and the sport parent who has always been just a little too into sports. The rarified middle ground -- the parent with some perspective and probably not the biggest SUV in the parking lot -- is tough to find.
Today I stumbled into the gym on crutches, a leg length immobilizing brace on my knee, to a crowded, chaotic, self-centered mass of yoga pants, and those awful Puma shoes that look like they belong on the feet of race car drivers. Every seat was taken, nary a standing room existed, and NOT A SINGLE MOM TURNED AROUND OFFERED ME A SPOT TO SIT. Not a single woman even as much as glanced in my direction. It was a new low in an already dismal opinion of this particular breed of blight, the gymnastics parent. It took all of five minutes for my indignation to reach unscalable heights. Zoey looked cute as #$%*, but these parents could rot.
I spent part of last year enduring the incessant man-bashing I would hear as one of the only Dads stationed near the glass at a gymnastics club. It was awful, and came close to lowering my lofty opinion of an entire gender except I had perspective, and patience, and a good grip on the notion that these weren't women, they were robots. Evil, evil robots, and there was a reason they complained about men...because no decent man, or man that wasn't broken, would tolerate their Lulu Lemon-ness. They were abhorrent, and I would never again apologize for myself or the crimes of my gender in the company of women like them.
Perhaps I was too used a more impressive type of girl...the cooler, better adjusted, easier going sort like my wife, or the numerous other women I know and can appreciate? The kind I hope Zo turns out to be. At the very least I'm too used to beauty and perspective that isn't ached and sweated over, but just is. I can name you ten women off the top of my head who I would gladly pack my child up with and send her off to a tournament, or meet, or whatever misguided social sporting event we adults of the 21st century send our kids off too. These women are beautiful, kind, intelligent, giving, and don't need make-up to make an 8am hockey practice...and they still look great, but you know why they look great? Because they're not idiots...because they're cool...because the things that come out of their mouth are interesting and drenched with humor and perspective...because they understand that what they're doing is defining their children more than themselves, and THOSE girls I can hang with. Gymnastics Moms...no.