Sunday, November 15, 2015

Playgroup Redux

CLC Playgroup makes pine cone birdfeeders
Yesterday morning, at age 58, I hosted a playgroup at church. My grandson Aiden accompanied me (which gave me a little street cred). We had five families with a total of seven kids under age five. To say it brought back memories would be an understatement. Why, I felt practically 28 again! Except for the part where I could hardly get up off the floor after building with blocks! And took a nap immediately afterward! 

For the uninitiated, “playgroup” is a lifeline for young parents who fear their vocabularies have shrunk to whatever is the letter of the week on Sesame Street. Ideally, the adults chat while the kiddos interact. Doesn’t always work out that way, but everyone tries.  I remember loving just getting out of the house, whose walls were, horror-movie style, rapidly closing  in on me.

Back in the day, we were mostly stay-at-home moms. Over coffee and calorie-laden pastries (a boon for those of us aspiring to lose those pesky extra pregnancy pounds), we swapped childrearing tips and generally solved the problems of the world. I made several lifelong friends from playgroup, and have enjoyed seeing their little ones become terrific young adults. But there were some challenging mornings in East Oreland for sure.

Alone, the kids were each a total delight. En masse, not always so much. Hair was pulled, dolls were swiped, and the tears would flow. There were a few sturdy toddlers we steered clear of (mine were on the small side), lest the wee Seyfrieds be mowed over on the quest for more Duplo blocks. The first-time mom tended to hover, and be totally distracted by any hint of unhappiness from her little precious. The fifth (or sixth) time mom tended to keep on gabbing through epic battles over Tonka trucks and My Little Ponies. I was somewhere in the middle, not 100% obsessive about playground dramas, but acutely aware of my kids’ behavior in public (not always stellar).
Rare PJ playgroup pic--"Driving" a tractor at Merrymead Farm

Random playgroup memories include Sheridan, who contentedly pushed a toy car around all morning, oblivious to the others. Then there was Evan my escape artist, who always added excitement to any field trip to pumpkin patch or zoo. Rose was notable for snubbing the other children altogether, in favor of sitting up at the mom’s table “chatting.” By the time PJ and Julie came along, I felt I was aging out of playgroup, and gravitating more towards the elementary school parents.  It was with a pang that I one day realized my playgroup days were over.

Until yesterday. It was a joy to return to playgroup after such a long absence. While their issues are different (many more moms work full time), we are at heart the same, trying to do our best to raise the next generation. I loved being with my younger counterparts, and felt very encouraged about the future. This new crop of youngsters is in great hands.

So bring on next month! Save me some coffeecake— and help me up!

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