It was with no little trepidation that I braved my first Toddler group.
Our church helps to run it and my wife has been a stalwart part of it for almost a year so I’d heard enough about it to almost run it.
However, having no experience of it myself and no familiarity with the conventions and social etiquette of such a gathering, I was certainly on edge as I entered the room.
In typical fashion, we were the first through the door, bundling through into a heaving mass of slides, cars and changing mats. Children belonging to the organisers were already on the charge, toys flying everywhere.
Sophie was in her element. She may not be moving particularly quickly, but she’s clearly established herself as a socialite, being greeted warmly by all and sundry. Her beaming smile has won her plenty of friends over the past year – chance for me to barge in on those friendships perhaps?
There were two other Dads dotted around the room. I noticed they seemed a bit more comfortable in this environment than me, by virtue of not clinging onto their children quite so tightly as I was to Sophie.
At one point, I nearly started a conversation with one as he carried his daughter across the room, clutching a biscuit. But, it was my first week, so a gruff and manly (at least I thought so) “Alright mate” sufficed.
And I needn’t have worried at all. Everyone was so kind and welcoming – lots of people knew my story. My wife had briefed them well and they were all interested in what Sophie and I would be getting up to.
Not in a “let’s interview the newcomer” kind of way. Far from it. More of a caring, maternal way. I can handle that.
Sophie twirled round a stethoscope (Mummy’s girl), lived it up in the kitchen (you decide for yourself!) and had snacks, cakes and songs.
When Sleeping Bunnies was sung, the roof was almost taken off and the ground almost bounced through. Brilliant.
At the end of it, both Sophie and I were shattered but satisfied.
Would I go to a toddler group again?
Well, I’m off to one tomorrow so let that be your answer!