It’s Not All Mary Poppins

In which Mary nearly drops the f-bomb

Off to playgroup this morning. Oh, the joys of playgroup! Lots and lots and lots of space in our brand-spanking-new community centre. Space for the ride-on toys, space for the sand and water tables, space for a playhouse and kitchen, for some tumbling mats littered with baby dolls, for lots of running around and play.

It’s great. When, despite the brilliant sun, it’s still FREAKING COLD out there, the park an ankle-twisting maze of upchurned, frozen mud, the play structures frostbite cold, it’s bliss to be in this large, sunny room with lots of room for the kids to let loose and race around.

And there are lots of comfy benches around the perimeter of the room where adults can chat. Bliss. Adults. Not parent-adults, mind you, but other-caregiver adults. Parents, with their one (occasionally two) children, don’t really get it. Caregivers? Caregivers get it. I want my peer group. I want my colleagues. I want some support.

Because it’s March, the month that drains me. It’s March, the end of a looooong, cold winter. It’s March, and I still have Lily. The baby who has been a strain and a challenge all winter long. We’ve made some gains this week, mind you. I’ve seen the happy, sunny girl I so adore for two entire days this week! Hope rises… but not as much as it might have done once, for I am in no way sure these gains will hold. We’ve been through this loop a few times in the past few months already: I try a new approach, I see some improvement, my hopes rise… and then the improvement fractures, crumbles away, and we’re back to square one. Or maybe square negative three by now…

I am weary, is what I’m saying, and in need of supportive ears and encouraging words. And that bench of caregivers? It’s a beacon in a cold and dreary place.

Mom was intending to visit with us at playgroup, but when she arrived she let me know that she couldn’t stay after all.

I should have left then. Because how does this child react to changes in routine? Three guesses, first two don’t count. How to describe? We’ll just call it “not well”, and leave it at that, shall we?

But I stayed because I hoped she’d get over it. She used to love playgroup. I stayed for me. I’m wanting that beacon of support. I want to park my butt on the caregiver bench and be washed in empathy. The tots can play, the unhappy one can sit on my lap or play at my feet or even lie on the bench under my pashmina (she likes this, really), and I can relax in the company of Women Who Get It. I don’t just want this, I need it.

The other two trot off to play. Lily opts to stay with me, so I draw her onto my lap, kiss the top of her head, and rock her gently side to side. Her whining reduces in volume, but doesn’t stop. One of the caregivers nods at Lily. “It’s still going on?” She and I have spoken at length about this, me seeking ideas and a safe place to vent, she providing her solid, sensible compassion, and some damned good ideas. I talk to her because she’s got a wealth of experience, and because I know I can trust her to keep any confidences I tell her. She is the epitome of professionalism. No loose lips on this one.

I nod, adding a few carefully phrased, safe-for-public-venue details. The woman sitting to my friend’s left, a woman I’ve never met before, enters the conversation. She knows Just What To Do. In fact, as it turns out over the next highly informative five minutes, she knows… well, she knows EVERYTHING!

All this without asking a single question! She doesn’t know what I’ve tried, she doesn’t know how long it’s been going on, she doesn’t know Lily’s patterns or issues, she doesn’t know the parents, she doesn’t know me, the other kids, or… well, any details at all… and yet, SHE HAS THE ANSWER!

Gee. If only we’d had this conversation I’d listened to her monologue months ago, think of all the grief I would have saved myself!!!

I’m sure if I told her I tried one strategy for six months, she would be sure the problem persisted because I didn’t try a variety of approaches, but since I have tried more than one, well, the problem is because I didn’t stick with one thing for long enough!!!

Of course.

Consistency. You need to be consistent! If you are inconsistent ONE TIME in SIX MONTHS? All my fault.

You know, I give advice. I do. You might argue that parts of this blog constitute ‘advice’, and you’d be right. Of course, if you’re not looking for advice, you don’t have to read it. Skip that post. Easy. If you are looking for advice (and judging from my email, a decent number of people out there are) you might find what I have to say helpful. In real life? In real life, I am very cautious about giving advice. I wait until the person has asked for advice before doling it out, and, even when they do ask, I ask questions first. Because really, doling out advice when you know NOTHING about the situation is just plain arrogant. And rude. And totally infuriating.

We left playgroup early. I left in part because Lily never did settle in, and I’m always aware of the vicious, potentially bad-for-business tongues of the Earnest Mommies who believe that the sign of Good Parenting is a child who never cries. But mostly I left because this self-important, insensitive moron of a fellow-caregiver absolutely destroyed the empathetic, supportive oasis I had so looked forward to.

Arrogant bitch.

Ah, well. We got home, and Lily settled in. Now they’re all napping, and my home is… silent… And it’s Friday afternoon, and in three hours I will be opening the bottle of wine currently chilling in my fridge. Maybe I’ll sip that wine in a tub full of bubbles, too.


March 25, 2011 Posted by | the dark side | 13 Comments