Maxi and Midi Minx go to a ballet class once a week. Maxi’s of the age where she’s starting to learn ‘proper’ ballet, while Midi still prances around in a fluffy dressing-up skirt. They’ve been going for a year, and initially they started to meet other little girls and to do something active. I met other mums, including my best friend (who’s now moved, and I still miss her), and all was good. It was just half an hour, once a week.
Then Maxi moved up a class. So Midi is in for 30 mins, then it’s Maxi’s turn. Now my Thursday afternoon routine is cheekily nip past all the other parents at 3pm ‘unlock the
zoo gates nursery gate’ time, grab Midi, yank all 3 to the car, beetle over to the next village 15 mins away, unload the little monkeys, herd them into a room full of screeching, unsupervised children, yell at Maxi and Midi so they can hear me above the cacophony, take no more than 4 minutes to change Midi or she’ll be late, shepherd her into the class, feed and water Maxi and Mini, change Maxi, swap girls, feed and water Midi and Mini (again – she’s a growing girl), get everyone changed back into warm clothes, drive home, have 15 mins flat to get dinner on the table and do Maxi’s homework with her.
I hate ballet days. Do the girls really enjoy it so much that it’s worth the stress?
And did I tell you about the other kids? Oh boy…
The class is held in the local independent school. It attracts a certain kind of affluent, lentil-knitting, homemade tofu-smearing, original-naming, child-led-everything kind of mum. Who as individuals are really nice and personable, but who as a group just let their children run wild. Properly wild. Screaming, shrieking, knock-other-kids-over-in-their-wake wild. From the school’s front door, down the main corridor, into the dining room (where we wait while the kids dance in another room) and back again. Now the noise level is horrendous anyway, but add over-excited kids to the mix, and I really struggle to cope with my hour purgatory every week.
To give you an example of how unsupervised they are: a few weeks back I saw 2 girls having fun hauling out all the teabags from the honesty jars, having a lick, a sniff, rubbing them on the floor and stuffing them back. Then their snot-and-grime-covered fingers were in the sugar and coffee. Their mother paused in the middle of a very long boast to say mildly, “I think you should stop that now”, but as she only said it in their general direction, in a very quiet whisper, they didn’t exactly cease and desist…
Today, I growled at 5 of the little wildebeest who came dangerously close to bowling over a toddling Mini. They ignored me. And another concerned mum. So when they charged past again, I resisted the temptation to trip them; I grabbed 2 of the little blighters by the elbow and yelled, “Oi, oi, oi! Stop that NOW!” I guess they’d never been addressed by a proper Glaswegian lout before, so they slunk off, shame-faced.
Trout 1 Brats 0.
It’s a small, pathetic victory, but I feel better standing up for discipline. I don’t see how letting children run wild is good for them. How will they manage their crushed ids when they realise that they are not the centre of the universe, and are just tiny cogs in the grinding machinery of society? How will they cope when they’re adults and have to follow society’s rules? Oh, right, I see where I’m going wrong, expecting them to eventually follow rules and mores. Silly me.