I thought I would start with a brief introduction: I'm a 'Stay at Home Mum' and whilst I don't love that title, my other options were: 'Unemployed' (don't like that either) or 'Housewife'. I'm neither married nor do I do very much housework; which, although doesn't feature in the title, feels somewhat implied. So a SAHM, I am. I live in Barry with my partner, who in a traditional manner shall henceforth be known as 'Daddy' and my two little girls, Little P (May 2012) and Little N (June 2014).
Little P is eligible for a part-time nursery place in September of this year and so I have applied to the nursery of our catchment Welsh primary school. Not being from the area, I don't know that many local mums and so thought it would be a good idea to take her along to the Cylch Ti a Fi (a Welsh parent and toddler initiative) at the school in order that she and I could meet some new people.
Now, Little P is quite a clever little girl (don't we all think that of our own?), she has particularly good speech for her age and is very sociable indeed. Sociable with adults. It's not that she doesn't like children, not at all - but she interacts with them like an adult might ("oh, isn't she cute, Mummy?"). So this is where we hit our first hurdle. She enters the room, without hesitation and chooses her first target: one of only two men in attendance who is playing very nicely with his own little girl. "Would you like to draw with me?" I try the usual tactics: explaining that he has his own little girl to play with, asking if she'd like to play with me instead and then, (like they always do) he says "oh, she's fine". That was it, he'd committed himself for the entire session. I don't know if it's just me or whether others find this one a bit awkward but I feel there's a limit on how many times you can say "come on now, leave the man alone" without a) sounding as though it is you who doesn't want your child playing with them or b) sounding insincere as it's the thirtieth time you've asked and Little P is showing no sign of budging. (I'm sorry if you have ever been affected by "b)" in the past...)
Eventually, and undoubtedly not a moment too soon for Little P's new BFF, it was time for the singing. The singing and hurdle number two. Now, I went to a Welsh school and I'm keen that the girls do too but I haven't really spent any time speaking Welsh to either of them as I feel a bit foolish and out of practice (See hurdle three below) so this really was Little P's first experience and she couldn't have looked more put-out if she'd tried. As I say, her language and vocabulary are really good (in English!!!!) so she was mortified that she wasn't able to sing the songs that the other children seemed to know so well. Rather than graciously listening or giving it a go she was shouting to me (over the voices of the other children). "I just can't do this, Mummy" of course met with my sweet toned "just give it a try!" She did not give it a try. Instead she took herself out of the circle and came to sit next to me. "I just won't do this bit, Mummy".
Lastly (hurdle three), a close friend of the leader was sitting near to me and must have heard me singing along to some of the songs and began a conversation with me in Welsh. ARGH!! I actually didn't notice at first but now I'm terrified of being revealed as a fraud! I introduced myself in English to the leader and now her friend knows I can speak(?) Welsh. Given this group is set up to introduce/encourage the use of Welsh language it was weak of me to shy away in the first place but that ship had sailed. Other mums must feel like this too? Or more likely other over-thinkers...
My fear of being caught out doesn't compare to the lovely atmosphere, though and I can't wait to get back after Easter! I've got Little P well rehearsed in Pen, Ysgwyddau, Coesau, Traed (Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes - or rather Head, Shoulders, Legs and Feet!)