Can you hear that?
Strip away all the Toddler chatter...
...the noise of banging toys...
...and the smattering of small talk concerning the small children in the room.
(*Oh my God, the SILENCE*)
And that's what you'll hear at the Toddler Group that the Child and I attend. Awkward, silent moments that are really to be expected when you get a bunch of women together in one room who have nothing in common except that they have children under the age of 2. After spending every Thursday for the last few months with these women I am starting to get to know them better. But small talk has never come easy to me with anyone, even people who's last name's I know really well. Actually, its torture. Its right up there with having my fingernails ripped out and having to listen to William Shatner sing.
Let me walk you through a typical day at Playgroup. Come on, it'll be fun...
9:05am - Needing to get out of the house before the Child has a complete breakdown because she's missing her morning nap, we arrive 10 minutes early at the center where our Playgroup is held. (The center is run by the local YMCA and its free to anyone who signs up for the group before all the precious slots are filled. Free, People!! I love me the word "Free".) Luckily we're not the first ones arrive - that would be embarrassing, wouldn't want to seem too eager - as there are two other women arriving with their children in tow ready to set them loose to do some damage to someone else's space.
9:10am - As we're taking off our coats and putting them away I notice the kids who are showing up are firmly in two camps: Those who take off running and those who sit or stand quietly and observe the madness unfolding around them. Julia is in the second group. She looks a little shell-shocked... "Where did all these kids come from? And why are they sticking their fingers in my mouth and in my ear? How dare they!"
9:20am - Everyone who will be coming to Playgroup has arrived by now. The winter keeps the numbers down since most of the mothers are good about keeping their sick kids at home. Don't want to be the Mommy with the snotty-nosed kid who infects everybody else! Nobody wants to be the Playgroup pariah.
9:25am - The moms with the toddlers who will soon be on Ritalin are busy running around after them and the rest of us are sitting in a half-assed circle, watching our babies trying to smack each other in the head with plastic toys, while trying desperately to find something to talk about. Good times, good times.
9:30am - *crickets chirping*
9:35am - Someone finally comes up with a topic - What size clothing is your baby wearing? Since this is the most dull topic on earth, next to the weather, it dies pretty quickly.
9:40am - The kids have decided that their moms are the most boring people on earth (and they're right!) so they scatter like plastic bags in a grocery store parking lot on a windy day. Off in search of more stimulating conversation perhaps, they settle on fighting over the nearest walker. Even though there are 4 others just like it in the room.
9:45am - Since Julia is the youngest and one of the few who are still crawling the moms decide to take their little ones off to find other things to play with and let her practice her walking skills. She tears off behind that walker like nobody's business. She won't use her walker at home, but she'll use this one. It must be because almost all of the other kids in the room are walking. Is she too young for peer pressure? Should I worry that the shady-looking little boy in the overalls will be sneaking pot into next weeks group?
9:50am - Okay, my back is killing me after doing the Mommy Crouch for 5 minutes. You know what I'm talking about... the posture necessary for being close enough to grab your little one before they do a face plant into the brightly colored, plastic toy.
9:55am - Snack Time! The other kids are sitting nicely eating Teddy Grahams and Goldfish crackers at the little table. The Child is not really ready for snack time so I try to get her to play with some toys. Boy, do I feel like the odd mommy out. Julia sees what's going on at the table and makes a bee-line for a little boy's snack, causing a near riot. Time to break out the Cheerios. I sit her down in the last available chair at the table, put some of the O's in front of her and pray that she'll be happy enough with them. She is, thank God. This is alright, kind of like being at the cool kids table in the cafeteria.
10:05am - Snacktime is over and now its Storytime. None of the kids really care for storytime since not many of them are ready to settle down yet. Julia sits in my lap and watches the group leader read the book and she gets excited when there's a dog in the story. I love my perfect, perfect child. Tomorrow I'll be signing her up for Veterinary School.
10:10am - Since there's still a few minutes left, and because the group leader is a sadistic bee-atch, she breaks out a parachute and all us moms proceed to dump our little ones in to the middle of it. Weeee! Round and Round we go! Three children immediately have meltdowns while the rest look stunned to be pulled around in a circle in the middle of what looks like a circus tent. I swear I see satisfied looks on the faces of some of the women. You can almost hear them thinking "Don't like this, do ya? Well, this is for all the times you woke me up at 2am. Payback's a bitch, kid."
10:11am - Julia sits in the center of the parachute and looks at me in wonder. She's loving this parachute thing. No, we are not going out to buy one.
10:15am - Time to pack it up and go home. Most of the moms are standing around talking (oh sure, now we find things to talk about!) and make promises to get together for coffee before the next playgroup. There's a good chance we won't follow up with these plans but its nice to pretend. And, chance's are, I'll misplace a phone number or two.
And, damn if I can't find a listing for "Madison's Mom" in the phone book!
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Can you hear that?