Today we went to playgroup. The Ziggler insisted (she’s 2, so insisting is her main method of communication) and nothing else was happening. She wriggled with excitement as we approached the church hall, parked our Phil and Teds (of course) and paid our subs. She struggled out of the pushchair straps, ran panting and straggly haired up the steps and burst through the play group door. And then she attached herself to my leg and only let go to have an argument with an angelic-looking boy about a red plastic pan that was HERS and SHE WAS PLAYING WITH. Every time I tried to prise her off she would whimper pathetically until I let her attach herself again. Meanwhile, Pickle, the 7 month old, was off making friends and eating everything in sight. She’s fearless and has a very effective defensive growl so she tends to be all right at these things.
Play groups. Ah, playgroups. They are full of tired women, formerly CEOs most of them, staring vaguely. There is always a fight over the Cosy Coupe, which is always involved in an RTA with a trike. There is always tea served lava-hot which you don’t really get to drink anyway as one arm is occupied by a large baby and the other is disentangling a toddler from a fight over who gets to open and close the playhouse door. There is always singing, which always turns into a bit of a karaoke competition (this particular playgroup could, and probably should, release an album entitled St Andrews Community Playgroup sings the Nursery Greats to raise funds for new batteries for the musical toys). There is always a stay at home dad being studiously ignored; a mum at the art table conscientiously doing that day’s project while her son is creating a squabbling toddler-jam by climbing up the slide instead of the steps; and there is always a sweating, harassed mum trying to make her grumpy 2 year old share while the baby in her arms slowly slips lower and lower until she is eventually held in a screaming headlock dangling a foot above the floor. Oh wait, that’s me. Nobody really makes eye contact and nobody can hold a conversation that’s longer than a few snatched sentences, each entirely unconnected to the last.
I tend to suffer a wave of exquisite loneliness at some point in the proceedings.
Ziggler only goes for the singing, I think. She unlatched herself from my leg to do a rousing version of The Grand Old Duke of York and she led the sleeping during Sleeping Bunnies. She knows all the actions to Wind the Bobbin up and she’s not even two and a half. Headed for Broadway that one.
Today at snack time, one boy started banging his plastic beaker on the table. His neighbour copied him. Then his neighbour copied him. The cup-banging started to creep round the table and then caught on at the next. With building momentum it infected the next, and the next and the next until every toddler was banging a beaker in rhythm. Isn’t that what prisoners do when they’re starting a riot?