Day Thirty-One: The clap intangible – Thursday 5 August 2015

We are back; and I mean “we” in the truest Richard Williams tennis coaching sense of the word. After a week of pretty serious introspection, and even some aborted conversations about quitting to take up ‘Baby Rhymetime’ at the local library, we were, on Sunday evening, handed a gift from the Gymbaroo Gods. Milo has learned how to clap.

In Gymbaroo terms clapping is an ‘intangible’. It doesn’t feature on any event list, there are no certificates awarded for it. It is the Gymbaroo version of the AFL ‘hard-ball-get’, the most esoteric of all sporting statistical categories. It is the immensely vigorous Patty Mills whipping his towel on the Spurs bench. It is the subjective style point awarded in figure skating; judges can’t explain why one ‘synchronised twizzle’ they see is worth 5.5 and another 5.75. They just know. It is MJ’s tongue, Usain Bolt’s index finger or Vladimir Putin’s bare chest on horseback. It is a game changer; and Milo now has it.

After each activity the children and parents are encouraged to clap. This is a regular occurrence and might happen up to 30 or 40 times a session. It is immediately obvious which babies can’t do it. They look blankly ahead, their little hands balled up into fists as their parents repeatedly try to force their arms apart and then together as if they are wielding a tiny set of bolt cutters. Invariably they give up and start clapping themselves as their babies slip sideways off their laps, still clasping their little clenched stumps together. We know. I have been that clapping parent with the embarrassed half-smile and the slumping child, those stumps have been Milo’s. But not today.

The first event, as ever, was the ‘Welcome to Gymbaroo’ song; “Hello everyone, hello everyone… something, something”. Milo didn’t even wait until the second hello before he was clapping, grinning and doing his little hip thrusty dance. He kneels upright, keeps his back straight and does a hop-thrust manoeuvre in the forwards direction, whilst growling and clapping. His progress was acknowledged immediately by the panel; “well, Milo has learned something new this week”. Yes he has. We both tucked our chins in a little and repeatedly nodded almost imperceptibly as we cast a slow, smug, sweeping gaze around the room. That’s when we noticed, no Lennox.

Lennox’s talent is obvious to anyone with an even superficial appreciation of Gymbaroo. But if he has a weakness, an impediment that may quash his future professional aspirations, it is commitment. Although it seems unlikely there always remains the potential that his talent will go unrealised, his career will fizzle out like the ‘next big thing of golf’ Long John Daly, or the perennial NBA disappointment Michael Olowokandi, the ‘Kandi Man’. “Don’t be the Kandi Man Milo, don’t be the Kandi Man”, I told my son. He was clapping manically and didn’t hear me. It is hard to explain to him now that clapping won’t always be enough, so I let him enjoy the moment.

Next up was ‘remote control wheelbarrow’. With his confidence up Milo scorched the competition. He wheelbarrowed his way to the centre without a deviation and then, when the remote control was within arm’s reach, he paused, turned and wheelbarrowed casually back to our spot and sat down. Class.

There was a new event in today’s session which I call ‘slobber or toss’. Essentially we sit the babies in a circle and then fill said circle with balls of all sizes and textures. The babies are then supposed to propel the balls back and forth to each other via whatever means they can manage; feet, knees, hands, faces, usually faces. In reality the babies grasp any ball within arm’s reach and immediately jam it into their mouths; any propelling is completely inadvertent. The toss to slobber ratio dictates the overall winner, a higher ratio is desirable. I would suggest with a ratio of 3:8 today, Milo’s performance had him in the top third.

The gym session today was also very positive. After some gentle warm-ups on the horizontal ladder Milo headed straight for the high difficulty corner, clambering up the down slides, and down the up tunnels. He balked once more at the trapeze but as the chief panelist pointed out it was a bit cold today, not ideal trapeze conditions.

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Horizontal ladder

Milo clapped enthusiastically throughout the mindless but catchy farewell song “farewell Gymbaroo, farewell Gymbaroo… something, something” which we sang with gusto and then vowed privately to never sing aloud again. We broke that vow three times during the afternoon.

We utilised the ‘keep Milo awake with a cracker’ technique in the car and made it home in time for some reasonable ‘power ball’ leftover eating and then a well-earned afternoon nap.

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Milo happy with his work. Have you ever noticed Jordan wears long pants in his logo?

The evening before ‘family fun day’ is always enjoyable and this was no exception. Milo settled well before Jed Bartlet both amused and informed us.

  • Average toss to slobber ratio in today’s Gymbaroo session – 1:16
  • Powerballs consumed (father and son) – 6
  • Minutes spent researching best ‘apple slinky’ machine – 30
  • Hours spent contributing to ‘fire ant awareness campaign’ – 0

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