Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Village Playgroup

http://roydonstpeters.org/ChurchHall.html19th August

As we approached the level crossing I noticed The Husband of The Lady of the Lock walking across the railway. He’s just off to his car with his toolbox. I call his name and rush towards him across the uneven surface with a double buggy full of children.
“Have you got the key?” I asked him breathlessly. “I’m late for my first day at toddler group!”
Being in possession of a heart of gold, he returns to the house to get the key and lets me through the big gate, off the railway and into the lane. This saves us at least fifteen minutes of time. During the summer holidays the church play group meets in the houses of the Roydon mums. I am nervous about meeting a group of mums on their own turf, as I know they’ll already be friends, and I will be the new girl, the woman that lives on a boat. It will either be lovely to chat to other mums, or I will feel shy and awkward and sit in a corner. Either way, I’ve heard that there will be cake, and my daughter will enjoy the toys and the company of other children.

I heave and push my buggy uphill through Roydon: Where lovely and large detached houses are named after birds of prey. The house is huge. The garden is huge. The mother bakes cakes. There is an iconic black and white portrait of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Go-lightly in the toilet. I love it. The house is gorgeous; perfect. Is that an Arga or a Rayburn? I wonder, as I envy the SMEG fridge and all the things that are on my wish list if I were to wake up rich one day. Discussion topics among the local mums are; Holidaying with family – or holidaying at all with the kids. Is it worth the hard work? And, Swimming Lessons for Pre-schoolers. What are you supposed to do with the baby while supervising an older sibling?

I cannot ‘break in’ to this group just by bringing a packet of shop-bought apple pies, (which cower in shame next to the plate of home-baked fare), yet although I dreaded a cliquey reception, these ladies are just like my own dear N1 mums. They face the same challenges and worries of mothering, such as doing the hovering with the baby strapped in a sling, because he simply will not be put down. My baby is happy on the floor with the other babies and plastic musical toys. My elder daughter enjoys copious amounts of toys, and on the lawn in the garden; plastic balls, tents, ride-on toys and a sand pit. It is as good as any ‘Stay and Play’ at the London children centres that my daughter misses. In fact, in my opinion, this gorgeous garden is better!

However, next week we cannot go to this group. There will be a different hostess and her house is too far to walk. In September the group returns to the church hall and we hope to join them then.
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