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I Tried It: Mommy & Me Hip Hop

Erin Chambers Smith, 32, Allied Gardens

You Try It!

Culture Shock Dance Center
2110 Hancock Street,
$15 per class
cultureshock dancecenter.com

I’d say I was reluctant but open when I agreed to try the Shorty-N-Me toddler dance class with my almost-three-year-old, Jack. We watch as much Yo Gabba Gabba as the next family, but Jack isn’t the type to get up and dance with Foofa, Brobie, and DJ Lance. I’m not a great dancer, either, and have never been a gym-goer or fitness class-taker. We are more of a hiking, gardening, bike-riding, park-playing family. But after having two kids in three years, I needed to step up my game. As a busy working mom, being able to exercise while playing with my kid sounded great. And the 9:30 a.m. class on Saturdays is perfect for toddlers: on the week-end, after breakfast, before naps.

On our first attempt, the parking was hard (the center is in an industrial area), and Jack was already uneasy. He saw the teacher at the front, the kids in the line, and could tell he was going to be forced to do something. He tried to block me from opening the door, so we didn’t go in. I wanted it to be fun for him.

“As a busy working mom, being able to EXERCISE with my kid sounded great.”

Then, on the last Saturday before this story went to print, we got to the class 10 minutes late and just busted in and started doing it. I’m sad to report that he didn’t like it. I think it was the music. It’s pretty loud. Like DJ music at a wedding. The instructor has to turn it off to give out the instructions. Jack also doesn’t hear a lot of hip hop in our house. We’re more Jimmy Buffet people. He immediately plugged his ears and climbed up my legs. I picked him up—all 35 pounds—and tried to slide and step and jump around. That lasted 10 minutes or so, and then it was just distracting to the class. Other kids wanted to be picked up, and I am not in good enough shape to do hip hop holding 35 pounds of kid. His shoes kept coming off. Squatting down while holding him to pick up his shoes was the real workout for me.

We both needed a time out. We stepped outside the class and sat in the hallway. I took his picture, still plugging his ears, and texted it to the editor and art director of this story. “Sorry.” We left and went to the park, where Jack ran wild for an hour.

But here’s the bright side: Every other kid in the class—all girls the day we were there—was loving it! Running and stepping and jumping with cute attitude. They wore tutus and sweat suits and bright sneakers. The instructor was patient, fun, go-with-the-flow. She even tried to move the speaker for us so it wasn’t so loud.

What did I learn, overall? First, I need to diversify the music my kids are exposed to. And second, our kids really are influenced by what we do, not what we tell them to do. I’m not a gym person, a class person, or a very organized person in general, and I see some of that in my kid. Which means we need to stay active in other ways, like walks, hikes, and running around outside.

I guess hip hop will have to wait ‘til his sixth grade dance.

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