Herding cats

25 Jan

These days 99% of my social life revolves around going to entertainingly named parent/baby groups. Puddle Ducks? Check. Plaza Babies? Hell yeah. Under Ones and Tums? Bring it on. In fact if it doesn’t sound like the title of a toddler’s tantrum it’s probably not my thing. For this reason I am still trying to persuade my husband to go to Men Behaving Dadly, if only for the free bacon sandwich.

I really did think there were no limits to the places I would go in order to keep my little son away from CBeebies and the bloody Jumperoo, with its tinny theme tune that haunts my nightmares.

Today however I met my match in the form of Notelets. This group ambitiously offers “music for the under-fives” on a Wednesday morning in one of the many local church halls. My friend and I naively pictured our beloved infants happy-clapping along while we harmonised well-known nursery rhymes like a pair of 21st century Von Trapps.

The reality was somewhat different. The first thing we had to accept rather quickly is that a group of “under fives” is more like a group of 18 – 80 year olds. If in the kingdom of the blind, the man with one eye is king, then in the world of the under fives, the toddler who can scream the loudest is unquestionably leader of the pack.

At the tender age of 11 months, my friend’s son experienced the pain of unrequited love when his two year old amour failed to appreciate the affectionate ways in which he repeatedly stole her favourite pair of shoes. The lady attempting to run the session decided the way to best defuse the situation was to gather the girl up and essentially attack her with a glove puppet in the shape of a fox. It didn’t work.

Another fact about under fives that seemed to be overlooked is that while the older ones are perfectly capable of “running round the mulberry bush” and jumping in “the puddle” (a tile of blue carpet), the younger ones are left watching gormlessly from the sidelines. My son passed the time furiously trying to eat the little wooden drum he had been given to participate with. Giving a drum to a seven month old baby is a rather pointless exercise.

A major flaw to the singing side of things was that nobody – including the group leader – knew some of the songs on the sheet we were given. And although others were different words set to familiar tunes, it is surprisingly difficult to sing about fairies and woodland to the melody of “My Old Man’s a Dustman”.

One advantage of the rather chaotic surroundings was that it was all getting strangely soporific. My son was looking decidedly sleepy, a fantastic result as he’d been bouncing off the walls since 5am. Unfortunately the group leader took this very moment to bring the proceedings to a lively finish by blasting out Katrina and the Waves “Walking on Sunshine” and giving everybody brightly coloured ribbons to throw around. \

It was another two hours before he calmed down again.

Thanks, Notelets.

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3 Responses to “Herding cats”

  1. The leak January 26, 2012 at 1:35 am #

    Hi zoe. Been a while. Let reece know fron me that sray and play is great fun. You get to follow the fruit of your loins for 2 hours while playing all the games that blokes just don’t play. I’ll not forget running around a playgroup on my knees racing my dd with a dolly in a pushchair while the other dads looked on, horrified in case it was their turn next. I’m going to have a new dd in the house (if the midwives are to be believed) by the end of feb. wish me luck!

  2. The Coffee Table Years January 26, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    The joys of the playgroup. I took my firstborn to every single baby activity imaginable. My second child, on the other hand, has not known the joys of the weekly library singalong session. She knows the theme tunes to most television programmes, though.

  3. almost witty February 3, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    We have recently discovered that Alex likes nothing better than to crawl around in vast open spaces. like, say, the central concourse of Westfield shopping centre early on a Sunday morning when there’s nobody around.

    At least it stops Belouis Some’s Imagination running around my head with its very inappropriate music video while trying to feed Alex.

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