Toddler Groups: Not Shit

My boys love dancing. And I love that they love dancing, especially because they’re boys. I don’t want them to grow out of it, to suddenly decide it’s for girls, so I take every opportunity to get them on their feet. We have a screw-in disco light, a ginormous speaker, and a range of all the popular hits, from Andrew’s  AC/DC to my classic Ibiza dance anthems.  Under Bear’s careful tutelage Andrew has learnt to twerk.

Kitchen disco. Shower cap and wellies dress code. 

Last Wednesday I thought it would be a good idea to take Raff to a dance class. At the grand old age of two and a quarter, he had yet to go to a single toddler group.

Our new car doesn’t have sat nav so I did what people did in the olden days and wrote down directions from google maps. Directions that I would combine with my own, excellent sense of direction.

Amazingly, we got lost.

We were so late for our class that the only option was to drive straight in, all guns blazing. I parked a sleeping Edie in her buggy and grabbed Raff’s hand, pulling him onto the dance floor, enthusiastically waving my arms in the air and wriggling about like the teacher was doing. It took me a while to realise that apart from the teacher, I was the only other adult who had joined in. It is quite hard to retract yourself elegantly from that kind of situation. But although Edie was so embarrassed she was probably only pretending to be asleep, at least Raff was having a great time!

Except he wasn’t. There he stood, stock-still, nailed to the floor, scowling. As soon as I let go of his hand he legged it.  I dragged him back to the dancefloor, then grabbed him again as he made another run for it.

I thought perhaps once he’d familiarised himself with the room, a sort of classroom cum community centre, he might join in. Only once he was satisfied that the door did indeed work, that the computer keyboards made the correct kind of noise, and that the book shelf had the right sort of books on it, was he was he content to return to the dancefloor. To stand and scowl.

He then refused to engage properly with the castanets, to return his hula hoop nicely or count to ten in English, French or Spanish (I counted really well, unwilling to forgo the feeling of sophistication that counting to ten in  THREE different languages affords). After nearly an hour of this I had to admit defeat. To simply accept that Raffy had inherited his father’s attitude towards organised fun and to never take him to another toddler class, or indeed leave the house with him, ever again.

And this Wednesday morning I was feeling pretty good about that. The sun was blazing and Raff, Edie, the dog and I had a lovely time in the garden. So lovely in fact that by lunchtime I was all set to write a blog about how unnecessary it is to go to all the stress/time/expense of a toddler group when staying put in the garden is just as fun. Raff was having a wonderful time naked on the lawn, playing with a washing-up bowl full of water, a measuring jug and a ladle. And just as I might have been veering towards being a teensy bit smug about this, Raff came running out of the house, carefully holding something in his hand, before putting it into the measuring jug and passing it to me.

A measuring jug with a lump of his own shit inside. Just to be sure that I knew exactly what it was Raff scooped it back out the jug with his hands and delightedly yelled ‘disgusting’.

Raff has form when it comes to his own poo. Over Christmas he neatly packed two miniature cups from his toy kitchen with the stuff and proudly presented them as gifts.  But at Christmas Edie was still safely inside me, and Andrew was on hand to wipe it up. Neither or those things held true this morning.

Now Raffy loves his new baby sister very much. So much that he rarely goes more than a few minutes without kissing or petting her or fondly sticking his fingers in her mouth for her to suck. Fingers that were now covered in excrement. The dog was circling, looking hungrily at the poo which Raff was now playing with on the floor. I ran inside for baby-wipes, but inside the house was so dark after the bright sun that I was temporarily blinded and trod in two more bits of faeces. Every step I took wiped more of it onto the floor. The next ten minutes were a blur of trying to clean Raff before he touched Edie, trying to stop the dog eating the poo, scrubbing at the patio with baby- wipes, attempting to clean my feet and the measuring jug whilst trying not to make a big deal out of it. I read on the internet somewhere that you should never make a fuss of children’s poo because that will make them constipated

The internet’s a fucking idiot.

I don’t know how many times you’ve been completely covered in human excrement in the boiling hot sun, but it has a pretty unpleasant smell. A smell that baby-wipes alone are no match for. I got Raff into the shower, he naked, me fully clothed. As I scrubbed him with soap he dropped the shower head and I got as wet as someone who gets into a shower fully clothed with a toddler deserves. Outside Edie started crying. Then Raff started yelling and trying to break free from my soaking arms as I carried him upstairs as he realised he was being put to bed early.

It was then that I had my epiphany…

This. This is why people go to toddler groups.


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