Tuesday, 13 October 2009

"Quality Time"

One of the things I was looking forward to about my eldest starting school, was having 'quality time' with The Toddler and getting the chance to take him to toddler groups and things and then watch proudly as he blossomed into a marvelous example of his species - able to craft woodland creatures out of Play Doh and act out all the moves to Wind the Bobbin Up.

Only it hasn't quite worked out like this.

The chaos of the house move has left very little time for any toddler related activities and, anyway, The Toddler is (as yet) to resistant to such attempts to tame him. My husband has described him as 'A Spirited Child'. I could think of other phrases but I shall hold my tongue (for now).

I recently tried taking him to a local toddler group but it's not the same as the groups I used to take my eldest son to where basically the kids all got high on custard creams and ran around in circles whilst the parents drank tea and gained 2 hours respite. No this is a toddler group held at a Government Sure Start centre and thus needs to have rules and regulations which ensure that it gives toddlers 'Positive Beginnings' and taxpayers money isn't squandered on producing the next generation of Young Offenders (who probably all went to the wrong sorts of toddler groups where they indulged in Malted Milks and ran around with with buckets on their heads......).

There is structure and routine and expectations (which don't include eating the Play Doh) and there are NO custard creams and certainly no tea (hot drinks you see - lethal. Actually you can access tea if you are very determined but it has to be served in a kind of lidded thermos mug with a slit the size of a 1p piece in the top of it so that it can't maim anyone - apart from you that is. This means that a) your drink never cools down and remains at boiling point for the entire duration of the session, b) the lava-hot liquid shoot outs of the slot and burns your lips and tongue very badly every time you take a sip, however careful you are and c) all this pain is utterly pointless because the tea just tastes like molten plastic anyway) and there is absolutely, definitely, a 100% NO running around and generally hooning about.

I don't think this is the right group for The Toddler.

For a start, between the hours of 9.30am and 11.30am (the hours the group runs for) he is used to consuming around half his body weight in food and packs 90% of daily calorie intake into that morning slot. So it doesn't really work for him going to a group where the only food or drink you are allowed to bring into the room is water. Yup - just plain old water. This is obviously to stop people waltzing in with half the Happy Shopper in their handbags and poisoning their kids with 'non-government-approved' foods on the premises - but it does kind of suck that he can't even snack on a few organic rice cakes should he so wish.

The do however serve a snack. So that's Ok then......

No. It isn't.

Having got him into a total frenzy by insisting he wash his hands, pull up a chair and sit down at the neatly clothed table with all the other toddlers, they then serve him with something along the lines of......

(brace yourself).


Oh and a glass of water......lets not forget that bit.

Now he loves apple and he's happy to drink water but, after all this hoo-har and what with it being 11am and him being ravenous, he's not exactly sated. In fact he's so un-sated that he starts raiding other kid's plates and generally causing a 'scene'. During this scene the rest of the room adopts the 'total silence and looks of horror' approach. None of this is particularly enjoyable for me so, having stolen some more apple for him, I decide to brave the 'World's Worst Tea in the World's Worst Cup' (I never learn, I keep hoping that one day it will actually taste like tea) and slink off to the kitchen.

I leave him playing with some kind of building blocks.

When I return I'm told by one of the staff that he's been throwing the blocks on the floor.

And laughing.

Whoooooaaaaaa - crime of the century. Next it bewill bricks through old ladies windows whilst torturing kittens I'm sure.....

'Oh' I say, unsure what I should really do now. I mean the moment has passed, he's not throwing them anymore. And he's 2. So in his brain it may as well have happened 2 years ago.
I move him to the other side of the (small) room where he seizes upon a tray of shapes and merrily tips them out.

'Oh he's such a boy isn't he?' says the mum of a little girl who is busy reciting the colours of the rainbow in the correct order. And then spelling them.......

'Pardon?' I say.


Different as opposed to what? A statue? A hibernating tortoise? Do girls seriously not tip bricks onto the floor during their toddler years? Cos I sure as hell know some that do. But yours doesn't. Obviously.

I give her a blank look.

If she thinks tipping shapes out of a tray is 'destructive' then clearly she's got some living to do.

And then it's 'rhyme time'.

All the children sit in a nice circle doing the actions and clapping and smiling while the mummy's smile proudly on.

Except for my child who runs to the door and starts sobbing 'HOME! HOME! DOOR OPEN! HOME!' and so we got our coats (well I got mine, I couldn't actually get him in his) and left.

Such was my sense of failure that I had to buy Take a Break on the way home to remind me that my life isn't so bad after all. I wasn't disappointed. Enid from Greater Manchester has written in to advise us that a metal wine rack can be used to hold 'several small trailing plants'. Alternatively Enid you can put wine in your wine rack and put your plants in their pots. Oh and Doris from Wilmslow passes on the information that if you have mice in your house you can stuff their holes with wire wool pads as they can't chew threw it. Erm, hate to tell love but presumably they can just chew a new hole next door to the one you have just blocked up? Oh well, I'm sure it keeps her entertained - roaming round her house each evening, blocking up the new holes with scouring pads....... As opposed to, ohhhh calling in pest control or buying some traps.

Today I couldn't take anymore self-esteem battering so I avoided the toddler groups and took him to Primark and Argos instead, where nobody can hear your child scream as they're all bloody at it....;)


  1. Stop right now, DON'T even think of writing into Take a Break... think we should work on a Sunday supplement at the very least......

    Noooo thats still not good enough, what about taking over the Janet and John slot when Terry leaves radio 2, I can see you working well with Chris Evans

    Oh I have so many plans for you... I'm your agent OK!!

  2. Ohhh yes - I'd like a bit of Wogan's old job (and his old salary...;). You'll get a cut of course.

  3. As the mother of a boy (now 20 and can behave) I soooo sympathise! I'm sick of boys being told that they're destructive, naughty etc when all they are is normal - they are energetic and inquisitive and it's not their fault that they don't like girly activities and are permanently hungry - this last bit doesn't change with age by the way. My shopping bill has more than halved since mine went off to Uni!
    Sue xx

  4. Thanks Susie!! Yes totally agree - and don't even START on how I'm going to fund them foodwise through their teenage years!

    I've 2 boys and all the boys in my family are VERY tall - my dad is 6ft 7" and my brother is 6ft 5"...... As a teenager my brother (who is slim as a whippet) NEVER stopped eating. He used to eat entire trays of cakes in one sitting. He would eat several pounds of beef at a Sunday roast. And I've got 2 of these to contend with......

    I asked about a friend of my brother's who is one of 2 very very tall boys and he said their mum used to get through 20 loaves of bread a week when they were teenagers.


  5. Ah - just remember you won't just be feeding them but also their hordes of friends - I lost track of the number of bacon sarnies and pizzas I used to get through in the summer holidays - and the pints of milk, cartons of fruit juice....
    Sue xx

  6. How do you sum it all up so truthfully and hilariously - all SureStart groups must be identical! Love it as always xxx