Wednesday, 9 May 2007
I feel as though I have been away from the site for an age and yet it is a mere handful of days since I last blogged - I so wish that didn't sound like a 'delicate' situation requiring syrup of figs and prune juice! I have tried once or twice to dip in and out, but it seems hardly worth the effort of logging on (hmm, still in the same tack I fear), the computer barely managing to reach the site before some other necessary task calls me away again. Eventually, I conceded defeat and decided to wait till the bank holiday weekend was over before catching up with you all again.
The weekend was a mixed bag of outings, beach trips, shopping and lunch in Truro (Thorntons - need I say more?) and wonderful, relaxing times at home. Very lovely and very much needed by all. I even managed to get back out into my sewing room and make Isabella a rather jaunty pair of shorts complete with frilly trim rather reminiscent of those naughty postcards of Brighton, now I come to think of it. Obviously, on a nearly year-old baby I am assuming the connection won't be made by passers-by and I won't therefore have to explain why I thought this was a Good Look for one so young and innocent. In fact, now I am thinking about it, I do wonder why I didn't make the connection myself before making the blasted things. Hey, ho.
Yesterday saw life return pretty much to normal with the weather helpfully marking the occasion in shades of sludge and gloom, the afternoon further enhancing the effect by producing copious amounts of the wet stuff in order to drag any lurking bright spirits down into the depths. Personally, I didn't particularly note the weather until after I had dissolved into tears after an incident at the playgroup. I think I'd better explain...
I mentioned my 'love' of all things playgroup in an earlier blog, making it clear that while I admire the people who organise such things and know they are a necessary part of enabling a child to learn the skills of socialising, my own inability to do the small talk makes me dread the experience. Last week, a mother at Lucy's school who has a seven month baby suggested we try a group at Mylor Bridge (lovely village previously mentioned and adored by me). Now, I really don't know this mum despite the fact that we stand outside the same school gates every day and both have babies, though we do pass a few hellos - not on the same occasion, of course. Even I can find more to say than that! Anyhow, to cut to the quick, last Tuesday found Isabella playing in a bright and sunny hall full of babies and toddlers. Toys were everwhere and there was a real atmosphere of enjoyment that I have never found at playgroups before. The mums were very much involved with the kids and chatted as they played rather than huddling in a corner in some ghastly clique. I have to say they were an extremely friendly bunch, coming over to say hello, etc. I actually quite enjoyed myself (teach me to be so judgemental) and, needless to say, Isabella had a whale of a time - would be grateful if someone could explain that sometime. Why 'whale'?
With such a good feeling about the whole thing I gaily set off yesterday, babe in tow and confidence fairly oozing through my pores - right until the moment I stepped through the door to find no sign of K (school mum). Tummy jitters ever so slightly. I decide to be pro-active and make eye contact with various people, smiling as I do so. They smile back (why wouldn't they?) and then it happens: my tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth and my mind goes blank. What to say? What to ask? To all intents and purposes, I mingle with ease, chatting my head off and appearing comletely at one whereas the reality is that I feel on the edge, drifting around the perimeter of the group and feeling as though I am back at school.
It is this I hate, the reminder of the inability to be comfortable in groups which always descends into a character assassination in my head. They are so much younger than me; they are all dressed trendily in Bench jeans and Animal tops (surf gear), whereas I cannot wear such clothes as I have too thin a body and manage to make casual clothes look ill-fitting. This means I generally look over-dressed in a world full of jeans; another thing to make me feel out of place. And the whole time I am aware how ludicrous this internal dialogue is and that it really stems from a childhood where I was ridiculed for not being part of the crowd - it is difficult not to stand out when your hand-me-downs originate from a sister who is ten years your senior and have reached you via three others. Fashions certainly changed a lot in a ten year space of time and children are the harshest critics. Add to this the fact that we were never taken to playgroups, never allowed anyone home to play ("I'm not letting anyone see the state of this place") and were never allowed to any parties ("No, because I can't have them back") and it is hardly difficult to see why it is second nature for me to see myself as a problem. The excuses were, of course, my mother's way of avoiding the very thing she loathed, her terrible shyness making her unable to allow her children the chance to learn a different way of being.
So, there I am, familiar feelings making my tummy lurch and anger at myself making me carry on despite wanting to crawl away to the comfort of my home. Finally, it is time to leave and yes, I have mixed and chatted, and yes, I will go again because I will not have Isabella struggle like I do but no, I didn't enjoy it and no, I didn't feel part of the group. As I strapped her into her seat I felt such an overwhelming wave of sadness that the little girl who was me had never been given the chance to have friends and had, as a consequence, been an incredibly lonely child, a situation which was only ever heightened in my teens when I was never able to stay out later than nine and so was never asked by my peers. What seemed so sad was the fact that I actually like people and would, I'm sure, have had a good social life if only I was given the chance, which would in itself have increased my self-confidence. To my horror I sat in the car with tears pouring down my face, poor baby in the back having the sound of her mother's wretched sobbing as background music while the rain slid down the windscreen. Wonderful.
So there it is. A maudlin tale full of far too much introspection and a need to shake off the residue of the outing. Of course, I shall go again next week (capricorn never gives up - unfortunately) and I'm sure I shall report back what a fool I have been. Oh, and please don't think I sit around like some saddo now; I was fortunate in realising early on that I could be beaten by the past or learn from it. I constantly put myself in situations which require me stepping out of my comfort zone and, while it never gets any easier, at least I know I keep on trying! Lord, I think I had better go before this gets any worse!
Have a cheery and confident day all xx