It’s been a while since I’ve observed and blogged a usual suspects post, but this one has been on my mind for a while. There are a few different types of baby and toddler groups that all mums who don’t work full time will try to frequent. The paid, term time classes tend to be quite structured and organised, they normally involve committing to coming every week for a term or more, and therefore you quickly get to know the other mothers and babies, as well as whoever is leading the group.
That’s not the kind of groups I’m talking about today. I mean the drop in, sometimes free, often council provided, in a library or community centre type of class. It may be called Rhyme Time, Stay and Play, Mummy and Me classes, Bright Beginnings, but you get the drift.
The availability of such classes is amazing, and I’m sure most new or first time mums would find it hard to cope without a cheap and local place to spend some time with other adults and their kids. Added to this, like any situation where you are in a closed space with strangers, there can be some interesting and entertaining moments to be found. So join me, and humour me, while I put on my judge-y cap and point out some colourful characters that I often see on mine and R’s travels.
The Awkward Assistant
I’ve seen it be a teenage girl on work experience, or a middle aged librarian. I’ve seen elderly ladies who should have long ago retired, or a guy who thought the silence involved in working in a library would mean he didn’t have to speak to anyone. But they all have one thing in common; they have no idea what they’re doing. Too shy to ask the bolshy woman why she’s taken two tickets for the group when she only has one child? Too nervous to stop a toddler from wandering out the electronic doors? Too incompetent to count the correct number of heads in a stationary line? You’ve found them.
The Lackadaisical Au-pair.
This type often moves in groups of the same species, and can be identified by the fact that they are rarely looking in the direction of the kids in their charge. They chat to each other mostly in their native tongue, which makes sense except it means that they normally have a bored looking baby spacing out on their laps. These type of groups are easy for them to go to, and therefore they continue to frequent them even when the kids are really not age appropriate for the activities provided. Spot a ten year old girl sullenly fiddling with a toddler jigsaw? I can guarantee you wont find her mother there.
The Awkward Child/Oblivious Parent
Oblivious parents are seen everywhere. They let their kids run off without supervision, they prefer to sit still in one place and hope the kid comes back, and they very rarely notice what’s happened in a tumble or collision.
Awkward kids are the kind that are just that bit too friendly, climbing into your lap when you’ve never met them before, or bringing you the entire contents of the Lego box piece by piece until you are crushed under the weight.
When you put these two together? Dangerous combo. The child is busy desperately trying to get attention from you, (how sad that they already realise there isn’t any point petitioning the parent) but you have your own kid to watch, and frankly-you didn’t come there to entertain someone else’s! Do you say something to the parent, who is nonchalantly scanning the room blankly, avoiding your gaze? Do you keep removing the kid who clings to you like a limpet, and start ignoring them too? If anyone knows the correct etiquette for that one-do tell.
I know we’re supposed to believe that all kids are born innocent and lovely, and that everything they do that seems like pure evil is really just a phase… but I’m not too sure. Whether you want to believe that their shortcomings are the fault of the parents, or that they were born that way, there is something just not nice about that child. Nature/Nurture debate aside, why is no one telling that boy to stop throwing sand in everyone’s eyes? Why is the mother taking photos of her little girl snatching the drum stick and using it sword-like to poke other kids until they fall to the ground? And.. did she just laugh and point at the baby who is now crying in pain? Scan the room and watch the rest of the parents lead their kids by the shoulders to a different area, and don’t feel bad when you catch their eyes and silently thank heaven for your normal discipline issues.
Also to be found in such scenarios, is the Over-helpful Leader who asks just a few too many personal questions about your family structure, gives advice when it hasn’t been asked for, and keeps coming over to make sure you’re all having a lovely time. The Screaming Crying Kid, whose parents really need to just take him home, and stop him spoiling the activity for the rest of us, and Over-Indulged Child who has enough snacks and extra toys to draw jealous looks from everyone else’s kids (which is only going to lead to them asking us for non-existent treats and getting rightfully tearful at the unfairness of life when we turn them down).
Also on display for the lucky viewer, is Freakishly Bright Girl (its always a girl) who rotates her appearance and skills, but can be found doing any of the following list: Walking at 7 months, Chatting full sentences at a year, naming and choosing colours at 18 months, using the building blocks to make a replica of St Paul’s Cathedral, etc etc. She is usually accompanied by Smug Parent who obviously doesn’t realise that not only do none of us care that our toddlers haven’t memorised the periodic table yet, but also that their kid isn’t even that cute. more annoying.
Please do share if you think of any others!