PARENTS

Figuring Out Fatherhood: The Horror Of Playgroups

14/08/2014 16:48 | Updated 22 May 2015
Figuring out Fatherhood: The scourge of playgroups

I am not a very sociable creature. I guess I just don't like the noise.

Sometimes I'll get a text from a friend telling me they're getting ready to go out at 10 O'clock in the evening, and would I like to join them. Would I like to join them?! I was in my jim-jams at 9, so no thank you. Enjoy standing in a queue in the freezing cold, I'm snuggled up in bed with my Horlicks and an episode of Call the Midwife.

This anti-social streak is one of the many reasons why I hate playgroups. Playgroups are loud. There are children yelling, babies crying, toys blaring out irritating tunes.

Parents have to raise their voices to hear each other over the aforementioned noise, thus creating more noise, to the point where you feel like wading to a quiet place through the knee-high sea of children with your hands over your ears and your eyes tight shut, except if you shut your eyes you won't be able to see the snotty kid coming.

Because there's always a snotty kid.

Sometimes, there are two or three: infants with their nappies bulging and bottoms swinging from side to side as they walk, two thick candles of goo seeping out of their nostrils and creeping over their top lip to a waiting tongue.

And they see you, and waddle towards you, even though you have no idea who they are.

But what you do know is that somewhere in the room their parent is watching them as they tottle unsteadily, hands outstretched, palms shimmering with translucent snot, snot which is just about to be spread across the knees of your favourite jeans.

One of our local playgroups provides each parent with a free hot dog about an hour into the session, something which I can only assume is a kind of edible apology for the suffering that we have to endure.

But this particular playgroup is a dads-and-kids playgroups. Dads-and-kids playgroups are the worst. Normal playgroups are loud, but at least there's noise. Men are naturally very private, which means that dads who find themselves at a dads-and-kids playgroup barely speak a word to each other.

Instead, they just follow their child around, walking behind them with their arms outstretched, ready to catch them when they start teetering on one foot and inevitably fall. We read to our children just so no other dads will talk to us.

And then there's the singing. I think the leaders of our dads-and-kids playgroup do it on purpose, just so they can have a giggle afterwards.

The ordinary man does not like singing in front of other men, and so when we're sitting in a circle on the floor with our children on our laps, we mumble the tune to them.

The following few minutes, therefore, sounds like a group of Benedictine monks singing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'. In a way, it sounds quite beautiful.

Playgroups: the scourge of the modern dad. Well, one of the scourges, anyway.

Suggest a correction