When I first set foot inside a playgroup, I was terrified.
I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t like singing nursery rhymes, and I hadn’t slept in weeks.
But I needed to get out of the house, so I stumbled into the brightly coloured, headache-inducing world of playgroups.
They can be lonely places if you don’t know anyone.
Now I am a seasoned expert on the playground circuit in my neighbourhood.
I know which groups have the best snacks, I know which ones can be cliquey, and I know which ones go above and beyond when it comes to the craft corner.
Despite this expert knowledge and years of experience, I still find playgroup a somewhat stressful place to be.
Why? Because I take my toddler with me and I’m pretty sure she’s bullying me.
10 Times My Toddler Humiliated Me At Playgroup
Don’t assume these are just mistakes. No, she knows exactly what she’s doing.
Here are 10 times my toddler has humiliated me at playgroup:
#1: Ate Biscuit Crumbs Off The Floor
One of my local playgroups hands out biscuits at snack time – slightly shocking in 2018, right? There are babies gumming chocolate biscuits, as they crawl around, toddlers with mouths full of custard creams racing around in little cars, and preschoolers fighting over who will get the last ginger nut.
It’s not pretty. The kids are basically being kids and, inevitably, most of the biscuits end up being stamped into the carpet.
No worries. They can just vacuum them up. Or at least that’s how I assume they used to tackle the mess before my daughter came along.
Now they can just leave the biscuit crumbs on the floor and she will work her way around the room eating all the crumbs she can find, like a toddler-sized human vacuum.
#2: Beat Up The Cuddly Mascot
I once took my daughter to an all-singing all-dancing toddler class. The woman leading the group wore bright colours and a fake smile. The music was loud and high-pitched. The parents were all thinking it might be worthwhile if it tired out the toddlers before nap time.
I was trying hard to get through the singing segment of the class with my dignity intact. My toddler didn’t notice any of it, though, because she was beating up the class mascot.
Now, to be clear, the mascot was not a sentient being. It was a big rag doll with a yellow mop of hair. My daughter pulled his hair, twisted his legs and punched him in the stomach. The woman leading the class looked scared.
#3: Wouldn’t Let Anyone Leave
Small children are experts at creating awkward situations. They should be commended for the ingenious and original ways they choose to embarrass their parents. My toddler once took this to the next level.
This wasn’t a run of the mill tantrum on a supermarket floor, or the predictably embarrassing comments made in a public bathroom. This was seriously awkward.
She took up her position at the playgroup exit, and then just stood there. By the time I eventually spotted her there was a queue of polite but bewildered pram-pushing mothers trying, and failing, to get past her.
“No”, was all she would say, smiling sweetly at anyone who asked her to move to the side.
#4: Chose A New Mama
I’m not really good at singing. Truthfully, I’m really bad at it. I can just about force myself to sing in the comfort of my own home, but it’s certainly not an activity I enjoy performing in public.
My toddler has picked up on this pretty quickly. While the other mothers are warbling at the tops of their voices and doing jazz hands, I’m usually mouthing the words awkwardly and dying on the inside.
My toddler has worked out that other mums might be better at this stuff than I am. And so, when the music starts playing at our local playgroup, she dashes off in search of a temporary mother with better singing skills.
#5: Left A Trail Of Raisins In Her Wake
My child can’t go more than ten seconds without food. She is constantly eating, snacking or grazing on something. I take a supply of raisins to playgroup because I know the snack won’t be enough for her. I call them emergency raisins, but does it really count as an emergency if they are needed every week without fail?
She snatches the raisin box from my hand and toddles off to eat them. She eats about half of the contents and the rest she sprinkles behind her like a breadcrumb trail. One day, I saw a line of crawling babies chasing after her and vacuuming up her leftovers as she marched ahead like the Pied Piper.
#6: Licked Somebody’s Shoe
I don’t know why this happened; it’s a moment I will never understand. My barely walking toddler shuffled across the floor towards one of the mothers. It was a woman, I must stress, I had never met before.
The mother was busy chatting to the woman next to her, and didn’t notice what was happening at floor level. Unbeknownst to her, my tiny daughter had licked the bottom of her shoe. And then she stayed there, shoe in mouth, for as long as it took me to get across the room and apologise for her behaviour.
#7: Followed A Smaller Toddler Round The Room
That might sound cute but I assure you it wasn’t. My daughter is built like a brick house, as they say. She is big and strong and heavy footed. The other toddler was small and dainty and shy. They were polar opposites trapped in the same playgroup.
My daughter took a shine to the other toddler. She followed him around the room for ten whole minutes with her hands in his pockets. Isn’t that the creepiest thing you’ve ever heard?
#8: Ran Away With The Props
I took my daughter to one of those baby groups with the fibre optic lighting and the sensory play. She wasn’t exactly a baby, though. She was a toddler, new to walking but surprisingly fast.
While all the other well-behaved babies sat around smiling at the twinkly lights and the pretty music, my daughter snatched up as much swag as she could and hot-footed it to the door. I had to chase after her and prise the flashing lights from her hands before apologising and making a swift exit.
#9: Pooped On My leg
I should point out these are in no particular order. If they were in order of awfulness, this memory would come first, no question.
One day we were at a local play area. It wasn’t really a playgroup – more like a little room full of toys in our local cafe. My toddler, who had only recently been potty trained, informed me she needed a poop. I quickly hurried her to the bathroom, pulled down her knickers and lifted her into the air only for something offensive to drop right onto my leg.
Yep, she’d already done it. On. My. Leg. I will never forget the brown smear across my jeans and the smell emanating from it. With poo on my leg, I had to walk past the other mums, whose darling children were playing nicely (and certainly not pooping), and then through a cafe of people who were eating (and also not pooping).
#10: Clung To The Door And Shouted For Home
This was not an isolated incident; my daughter has done this many times. Sometimes, if she grows tired of playgroup, only minutes after we arrive, she will cling to the door and yell ‘Hoooome’ at me, until I give in and take her home.
This morning, the door to playgroup hadn’t even fully opened before she closed it again and simply said, ‘No,’ before turning around and heading in the direction of home.