Ahh the world of parent and baby groups. Before having a baby, I was aware this world existed, but I have to say, they only existed in my periphery. But, after having my daughter, I was thrust into the madness of the baby group. Don't get me wrong, I think parent and baby groups are fantastic and I have met some lovely parents at them. I do think you have to pick which groups work for you though, because some quite frankly are plain weird. And just so you know, the majority come with singing.
Now, I completely understand the benefits of singing to your little one. It promotes their speech, encourages interaction and really strengthens that mother and baby bond. There is nothing that me and daughter like doing more than putting on Mary Poppins and proceeding to dance and sing around the dog. But, my friends, there is a slight problem with my beautiful singing voice, that being, I haven't got a beautiful singing voice. I can't sing. When my daughter winced and then had a full fit of giggles as I reach my crescendo in a 'Spoonful of Sugar', I knew right then I had a serious problem (I think the dog howling was a little harsh).
At some groups, I manage to mime. I've become a bit of a pro actually. To the point where I think I could give a good show on Top of the Pops if they gave me a backing track. At some smaller groups I whisper like a mouse or a very quiet person (which I am not). At some groups I completely forget and as I join in with the fifth round of 'Happy Birthday', (there's always about 6 birthdays per week), I frustratingly wonder why it has to go up so bloody high and I hope to God the mum sitting crossed legged next to me didn't hear my rendition (she probably did and won't sit next to me again).
But then, one fateful day at a baby group, my usual tactics failed me. The lady leading the session, who I shall now refer to as Simon Cowell, went around the circle and asked parents to choose what song the group should sing. Now this is fine and dandy if you are sat to her right. Oh yes, this is all bloody well and good if you are sat to her right. Yes, lets sing, twinkle twinkle, wind the bobbin, baa baa black sheep, and the list goes on. But, there isn't a infinite amount of nursery rhyme songs. When the woman next to me suggested Little Miss Muffet, I knew we were scraping the barrel. And then it was my turn. 'What song would you like to sing?', Simon asked. All eyes were on me. What I would like to have said is, 'You're bloody running the group, you pick the next song'. But I didn't. Even my little daughter turned to watch what song her mummy would sing with baited breath.
I wracked my brains. Ah-ha! Take this Simon I thought!! How about 'Down in the Jungle' I said. Everyone just continued to look at me. I had made a fundamental error. No-one knew the bloody song. I had got my groups muddled up and it was another group that we sang this song at. And what did Cowell do? Did she say, 'Oh never mind, lets sing Twinkle Twinkle again?'. No. No, she did not. 'Oooh lets hear it', she said. I cleared my throat and what happened next was the most painful minute and a half of my life and probably everyone else's. I'm sure a few stray cats even wandered into the hall to join in at what they thought was the grand master cat screeching out a cat call. I have never been so embarrassed or so red in my life. Why didn't I just pick the Neighbours theme tune? At least people know that.
Needless to say we have not returned, because quite frankly, if I want to make a t*t out of myself in front of a roomful of people I will just go and audition for the X-Factor. Take heed, dear readers. These groups are not for the faint hearted. Either be mentally ready with every nursery rhyme ever written, oh and sit to the leaders right, or you could always just belt out, 'Neighbours....everybody needs good neighbours....".
Thanks for reading and I would love to hear any of your baby group disasters to make me feel a little better!