Sunday, July 31, 2005

Talking of strive

The other day, I got one of those "You Too Can Build A Better Child Through Weekly Get-Togethers" leaflets through the door. This one was for Tumbletots. Amidst all the usual blah about how it would develop his physical development and language skills (sure it will - so will pulling himself up on the coffee table to cries of "Well, look what a big boy you are, standing up like that!", and that doesn't cost £4.50 a session), it pointed out that this was also a good way to meet other parents.

Seemed worth checking out. While I'm really not that good with the whole social life thing, I do, now and again, have a hankering towards meeting some people on a more close-up-and-personal basis than words appearing on my computer screen, and it would be interesting to meet some other parents and see what's going on in Parenthoodworld these days. So, recently, I've been looking into the possibility of doing the conventional middle-class thing and signing up for some sort of regular child-related activity.

I got quite excited when I checked the on-line listings for UK La Leche League groups and discovered there's one listed right here in the town I live in. I figured either I'd go along and discover a group of wonderful, like-minded women who would become bosom friends (pun not initially intended, but it was so good I left it in), or I'd go along and discover the kind of ghastly breastfeeding Nazis that people complain about, who spent their time plotting up new ways to make formula-feeding mothers feel guilty and inferior, and I would have tremendous satisfaction cutting them down to size with Very Polite Irony (I want to be Albus Dumbledore when I grow up). Either way, it was bound to be fun, and well worth trying out. What actually happened, alas, was that I e-mailed them several weeks back to ask for the details, and never heard a darned thing in return. There is a number I could ring to find out more, but it seems to be the national helpline number, and my concern is that I might ring at the precise moment that some desperate, exhausted mother with smarting nipples and a screaming baby is trying to get through for some badly-needed advice and when she can't manage it due to me tying up the line she will dissolve into a sobbing heap and send the nearest person running for the formula. So, I've been avoiding phoning them. Maybe I should e-mail them again, but I've got a feeling that, unfortunately, the rumoured local group will never come to anything more than a rumour.

I've had more luck checking out the details of babysigning classes, since they actually post details of the times and places of their meetings on line. And, yes, to my delight, there is a group within a half-hour's drive from here on my weekly day off. I haven't yet had a chance to get to it, since so far there always seems to have been something else I've needed to spend that day doing (recovering from the move, taking Jamie to the GP about his squint, taking the car to be serviced, and spending the day with the visiting in-laws, respectively), but I definitely mean to go this week.

However, the Tumbletots leaflet provided me with a possible alternative, as they also have a local class on the appropriate day. While it sounded less interesting and less useful (Jamie's physical development and language skills are likely to develop just fine without needing any teaching, but the same isn't true of sign language, and that would be a cool thing to know), it still sounded worth checking out, and does have the advantage of being closer. Besides, let's face it, I suspect I'm overestimating the amount of sign language Jamie's likely to learn from the Tinytalk classes - yes, he'll probably learn such currently crucial terms as 'milk' and 'biscuit', and the lyrics to the odd nursery rhyme, but I doubt if he's actually going to learn enough of the language to be useful to him in the long run.

So, I checked out the Tumbletots website to see what they had to say. Tumbletots, apparently, is 'the springboard to developing children's skills for life', and 'instils in them, a healthy and active lifestyle and the confidence, to reach their maximum potential' (though not, apparently, appropriate usage of the comma). I was also assured that 'Child psychologists and educators agree that a structured program in movement should be a part of every child's education.' Sadly, I think that one is most likely true - there probably are child psychologists and educators out there who agree on that sort of rubbish, though I think it's less likely that any of them could, if pressed, come up with a satisfactory answer to the question of precisely what dire fate awaits those children so poor and underprivileged they don't have a structured program in movement to call their own. They did have a 'Click here to see what the experts have to say' link, which I clicked on, intrigued. What they have to say, apparently, is that National Tumbletots Day is on 11th September and is being celebrated by a 'funtastic' day at Legoland. Well, either that or somebody hooked up the wrong link on the webpage.

Anyway, I waded through all this and found the bit about dates, times, and places, only to discover that Tumbletots shut down a week ago for the summer holidays. So why anyone was choosing this time to push leaflets about it through people's doors is anyone's guess. Oh, well - I shall probably check it out when it reopens. Meanwhile, Tinytalk awaits.


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