Saturday, January 28, 2012


What? That's not how you spell it?

So this whole gymnastics thing started out on a high note. The lady who taught the class used to offer one, gratis, to children with special needs via Special Olympics. For some reason, that stopped. I heard it low participation. I called her early in the summer after seeing a sign and asked if the class might start up again. She said she'd call me once school started and let me know. And she actually did. She told me the available time slot and offered a free trial throughout the month of September.

The following month, we began as full, paying customers. The number of children in the class fluctuated between two and three. I worked on helping the teacher reach more students, but, really, it was fine by us the way it was and the teacher never mentioned anything so we rode it out. The girls seemed to need more one-on-one interaction as they were easily distracted and seemed to work as a team to conspire against what they were supposed to be doing sometimes. It was all in good, four-year-old fun though.

They were super cute, and sometimes comical in their endeavors. Remember how I told you that Playette rolled like a triangle? That got better. In fact, everything was getting better for a while. She began to do amazingly well on the trampoline, started rocking the balance beam, followed instructions, and just seemed less afraid, overall. She was definitely the less adventurous of the twosome (read: scaredy cat), so every little bit was a huge victory in my eyes. She ran, she jumped, she had fun.

But then that stopped. I'm not sure what happened. Even I didn't want to go anymore. But I figured it was a phase for both of us and I was just tired after being at work all day and the whole human-growing portion going on.

And then I started noticing things. The instructor, an award-winning Russian gymnast who certainly knows her stuff, didn't seem to have the same rules for us as other classes. We parents were required to stay, while those in other classes were able to drop their kids off and come back when it was all done. I kinda let that slide and chalked it up to being part of the price of admission that came with the extra chromo. On one hand I understood that maybe more help was needed in keeping them on task. But then, I also couldn't help but think, "There are only two of them!"

Sometimes, we'd have other children in our class. Typically developing children whose parents maybe couldn't pick them up and they needed a ride home at the end of the night. That was fine if the kids were helpful. But sometimes they weren't and just added to the girls being distracted even further.

One evening, the teacher just up and left the class. I think this was right before Christmas and Playette may have been without her counterpart that day. I watched at the teacher went to meet the people who had entered the lobby and were obviously looking for her so that they could say hello after being away for a while. I fully expected her to offer some niceties and then explain to them that she was in a class. She didn't. She didn't even excuse herself from the room when she left. I gave her the stinkeye for what I now know was way too long and eventually she came back. I was really trying hard not to rock the boat. I didn't want to ruin this opportunity for both girls. But I am a huge customer service nut. And what she did by leaving my kid on the trampoline, leaving and coming back without ever saying a word to me about what happened? NOT COOL.

I also tried to give her an extra dose of grace by thinking that maybe what we were experiencing was some difference in cultural norms. Maybe in her eyes she wasn't being rude?

So, I sat back.

And then, when I was in TN earlier this month, BD reported back to me that one night another group of children (4) and instructors (2) were sharing the gym. He said that "our" girls were completely distracted, but the other people were only there for half of the class, so maybe it wasn't such a big deal. Maybe it was a one-time thing? Again, our instructor, the owner, said nothing.

I think it had been two weeks since the other class had been there when I showed up on Wednesday night and was met with a new group in the waiting area. I asked the other mom if these were the same people from before and she said yes. This time, though, they started at the same time we did. I made up my mind to address this with our instructor after class and let her know up-front that I needed to talk to her later. I watched to see how she would handle the girls running over to be with the other children instead of following her directions. Because they did. Several times. Also, what about when Playette would be staring at them instead of looking ahead on the balance beam? Normally, I would have helped. That night, I did nothing.

Now, I had spoken to the other mom the week before about how I had been feeling about everything. I wanted to be extra careful because, as I've mentioned, this would might them as well. My worst case scenario was that we would leave and then the other little girl would be in class alone.

After class, the teacher asked me what I wanted to talk to her about. I didn't touch any of the other issues I had, but simply asked her about whether or not the other class would be sharing the space from here on out. She said yes and then went on to tell me that she had to do that for her business and that she couldn't continue to give us "private lessons" any longer. If we went to another gym, we would be sharing space. I asked her if another gym would share that information with us up front. She said no. I reminded her that these children have special needs and appeared, at four-years-old, not to be quite ready to handle those types of distractions. Didn't she notice their lack of presence? She said no. She then told me that she was upset that I would even have this conversation with her.


Pump the brakes.

Did this woman not realize how flippin' patient I was being? Did she not appreciate my calm, even tone? Did she not see in my eyes that what I really wanted to do, instead of being the kind, professional mom, was go upside her head with a shoe?

Such is the cost of playing the nice role, huh? You get underestimated.

Back to the convo.

She had the nerve to be offended that I would approach her with such a thing?

I asked what she would rather have me do instead?

No answer.

So, if I have a concern about the class, I shouldn't come to her?


She then said that she was bothered that I think that she wasn't giving the children enough attention.

"Sweetie, that's guilt talking. I never said that," I thought.

The other mom then pretty much said what I was thinking in a more tactful way. She confirmed that was not what I said at all.

And then we were unceremoniously dumped.

She told me that class was now canceled. For all of us.

I asked her as of when.

She did not understand.

I asked her when this brand new decision would be effective.

She said that she would no longer offer our class in February.

I asked her when she was planning to tell us that. Was this conversation the catalyst?

She said yes.

I asked her if I had never asked the question, would this still be the case?

She said no.

(Which I believe. Before class, she had asked the other mom for the contact info of the local Ds group so that she could place an ad looking for more students.)

I looked at the other mom and apologized. I told her that I had no idea this would happen.

The instructor then told me that there was no need to apologize.

Say huh?

I told her that there was. I said that because of my confrontation and attempt to address an issue, that their daughter would miss out on class (nevermind the start-up and uniform fees!).

My brain was fried. Isn't this what grown-ups are supposed to do? Talk things through? Address and solve conflicts in a mature manner?

I took Playette's hand, told her to tell Miss M thank you and good night and then we left.

Pleasant as ever.

By the way, when I came in that night? I saw a calendar on the wall of all of the classes. None of the others classes share space. She must think I have "Yummy the Dummy" written across my forehead. Two things you don't mess with: my kid and my money. This was far from charity and I expect for us to be treated as equals.

What a nutball night.

So. Do we go back next week, y'all?
I'll have to check with BD, but I don't think we've paid for January yet. I'm guessing that we should, because that's the right thing to do, even though I don't want to. And then, if we do, I don't want to miss out on a paid-for class. It's not like I feel like tipping this lady. But I also don't want to be held liable if I go off on her next week. A shoe upside the head feels too kind now.


Not a Perfect Mom said...

what a bitch....I am so impressed you were so calm and even, I would have lost it on her...
and if you paid, you go...don't let her win

Cate said...

Go back? You are kidding?

Oh wait, did you already pay for it?

I would cut my losses and move on. And maybe write a yelp review.

Anna said...

okay, if it were me, no. I would figure out what the monthly sum would be divide by four and subtract that from the month-mail the check explaining the amount and let it be that. I would then make sure that the other families with children that had special needs knew that she was difficult to work with. (and possibly write a review)

Molly said...

Nope. Don't pay. If you must, pro-rate it. Pay what you owe and then get the FUCK out of there because that woman is not a nice lady who doesn't understand the fantasticness of playette. I used to take classes with my cheerleading team at a rather big place. We were given the entire facility to work with during our time. Because, duh, that's what you do to run a business. This lady sounds rather yucky.

Becca said...

I'm drawing in flies at the moment with my jaw on the floor. Ho-ly crap, what a biyotch!!! Unbelievable! She's obviously *clueless* about *anything* and would never get it if you wrote a letter or tried to talk to her again. CLUELESS. I'm willing to bet she's not expecting you to show up next week, and I bet that if you both do, and demand more of her attention, she'll totally be caught off guard. Deservedly. I think you should go, since you've already paid (and the look on her face when you stroll in will be completely worth it), and *definitely* write a review on Yelp, on Facebook, and anywhere else people might see it.

Sharonda M said...

Go back, this moment will pass. As long as your number 1 (your child)is having fun, let the fun continue. When the fun stop for your number 1, leave. But do post your review of the class everywhere!

krlr said...

I guess today's post answers the question about going back, so I'll just throw in my own OMG/WTF comment.

Do you think this is a too-small group/not making any money off it/exceptionally lousy eastern-european customer service or a special needs thing? I wonder, since you said she used to do special olympics (as in she might not be EVIL).