Day Thirty-Nine: “Farewell Gymbaroo, farewell Gymbaroo, something, something” – Wednesday 19 August 2015

As the days tick away on this grand adventure that Milo and I have shared there will be many ‘finals’. Today was our final Gymbaroo.

Circumstances conspired favourably and allowed Kuepps to work from home today so we went out for an early breakfast to settle Milo’s nerves. Watching Milo precisely scrape away just the top layer of his vegemite toast with his now established upper teeth and toss the vegemite-less scraps away casually I realised he was not in the least bit exercised about this milestone, and neither should I be.

Today was Kuepps’ first opportunity to experience this strange phenomenon and she joined in with enthusiasm, clapping, singing and smooching her son. Milo seemed a little distracted initially and I worried that his mum’s overt affections had him rattled. This lead me to recall a similar occasion many years ago when my mum arrived at my rugby game only minutes before we ran on and as we stood in a huddle being manly and saying manly things mum spotted me and called out “hi blossom!”. I of course ignored her but being a mum she misread my response, thinking I had not heard her, so called out again a little louder while waving to make sure of it. I acknowledged her, and a new nickname was born.

Milo was casually disinterested in the wheelbarrow, performed admirably in ‘jelly on/off the plate’ which appeared for the first time today in a clear cross promotion from Swim School, both washed and dried the dishes with ease and slobbered more than tossed in ‘slobber and toss’. The Treasure Bag was full of cats today and Milo enjoyed sucking on the tail of a Pink Panther doll. Soon it was time for the gym so Milo showed his mum some of his favourites; crawling up the robo-turtle slide, shimmying through the hangy tube, rolling down the cheese wedge, cruising along the ‘perilous plank’ and for the first time swinging back and forth in the ‘anti-grav seat’.

We looked around the gym and realised there were no more challenges to pursue, and nothing that we can’t install at home with a few dyna-bolts, some bubble-wrap and a handful of cable-ties. Kuepps, having not seen the journey from start to finish, having not seen a wide-eyed Milo clinging to me while his very first Gymbaroo instructor tried to coax him into the fleece-lined dino-pit, said “what’s all the fuss about?” And she is right.

This statement was reinforced during parachute time as Milo prowled around giggling and chasing balls, and then after the session as he played happily alone for several minutes after the other babies had left, chewing on a contraband bouncy ball he had managed to hold onto. This is no longer a competitive activity for Milo, it is leisure; and if so perhaps it is time to bid farewell to this structured, rule-based institution of formal Gymbaroo and forge a new path among the free-form, underground warehouse gyms of Sydney.

The rest of the afternoon was peaceful and in the early evening Kuepps headed out for a work dinner. Having been a professional child wrangler for a few months now I can usually foresee when a scenario is likely to lead to chaos, such as handing Milo a dried apricot to work on while  we are shopping in a bridal gown boutique. That does not necessarily mean the chaos is avoided, but at least as I am hosing down the wall I can say to myself “yup, I saw that coming”.

Every so often I am, however, taken completely by surprise. This evening was one such occasion. I cooked Milo and I a simple carnivore’s dinner of steak and pan-fried mushroom. Milo will of course not entertain the idea of being fed such a meal so I tossed strips of steak and mushroom onto his tray for him to negotiate and went about cutting up my meal (pre-preparation for one-handed eating is usually a good investment).

I looked up not 10 seconds later and witnessed a scene of shocking mushroom-doused devastation. Milo had a strip of mushroom held in each tight little fist and was waving them around vigorously, spraying a black mushroomy liquid in splashing arcs that flew beyond the high chair, beyond the scraps towel perimeter and comfortably onto the carpet, surprising the cats that were hoping for something a little more appetising.

The scene appeared as if, in the 10 seconds I was looking away, a large squid had emerged from the floor, panicked, sprayed ink in Milo’s face and disappeared. He looked like Norm Provan in the famous photo from the 1963 Rugby League Grand Final that eventually inspired the Winfield Cup. He was filthy. I reached my hands out to retrieve the mushroom but realised I had already lost, such was the speed of my transition from casual in-control dad to scrambling ‘hold child out at arm’s length and carry him to the sink’ dad.

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Mushroom explosion

I had entertained the prospect of a sly no-bath evening in Kuepps’ absence, but this dream was shattered in 10 seconds of poorly supervised mushroom consumption.

De-fungused and re-dressed, Milo free-flopped himself to sleep to prepare for our final Family Fun Day tomorrow.

  • Minutes spent scrubbing mushroom distillate from the carpet – 15
  • Minutes spent de-beading our footstool to remove swallowables – 30
  • Minutes spent making home-made play-dough – 0
  • Number of teaspoons stolen by Milo from cafe this morning – 2
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