Sunday 3rd March 2013

Considering the fuss in getting there and the fact that we were late, the ballet dancing went well, I think. The teacher said she was fine and Bethan seemed pretty nonchalant about the whole thing. When she came out into the waiting room I asked her what she had done to which she replied, "dancing" and then for the next 10 minutes she started wittering on about "Falling Overs (aka 'You've been Framed').

Despite my earlier prejudices about the class and what it involved in terms of being an Alpha Mum, everyone was absolutely lovely. Ok, to begin with it felt like a film called "Attack of the Pink Clones". However, they all looked very cute but more importantly, they seemed to be very proud of what they were wearing and what they were doing. One mum must have seen me waiting anxiously and staring fervently into my phone as I wrote my blog trying to avoid eye-contact with anyone else. After the class she asked me how Bethan had got on and  I started to feel like I, Liz Hillier, could be part of the waiting room posse. I was cross at my juvenile feelings of insecurity and not being able to 'fit in' when really we are all in the same boat. I'm a bugger for judging situations as soon as I become part of something new; sometimes I get them right and other times I get them wrong, like today for instance.

The one thing thing that we parents all had in common as we were sat in the waiting room was the fact that we want the best for our children. I know Bethan loves to dance and yes, it is a blinking bother getting from a to b on a Friday afternoon but I really wanted her to have a go to discover if she enjoyed it or not.

This is then followed by swimming lessons on a Saturday afternoon which are expensive (Rob said to me, "How much?! At least Dick Turpin wore a bloody mask"), on the other side of town and a real hassle to get us all there fed, watered and changed before we all sing a rousing chorus of "Splish Splash" around the pool.

Swimming is important to us because Rob and I aren't particularly strong swimmers and we want the kids to feel confident and safe in the water. Plus, the ritual after the lesson as we head back to our home is that we start rubbing our egos and commenting on how swimming makes us spend quality time together; just the 4 of us, doing something which is (for all of my moaning), good fun.

Why all this justifying????

Well, as ever, I was reading something on the BBC news app on my phone (on the toilet as this is the only time I get to read anything or text anybody without being interrupted; well, usually anyway), and I could feel my hinds rising up from the toilet seat.

Tory MP and advisor to the PM, Claire Perry, has "criticised parents for filling children's lives with too many organised activities". In an interview she gave to 'The Times', Ms Perry says that "we've created a treadmill"  and that "it's usually the mother that is orchestrating...and doing all the driving" (metaphorically I assume because I don't literally do all of the driving as I am a crap driver and worry for my children's safety).

Controversially, the MP who is a working mother of 3 (I really hoped she hadn't have been because then I could have had a real go at her like I do with Gina Ford) says that, "we worship this feminine motherhood thing and I don't think our children have benefited actually. They're babied a lot".

Crikey! That's scathing and made me feel like squirming into the toilet bowl on which I was sat.

This was written the same weekend when American parenting author Pamela Druckerman, who lives in Paris, has been publicising her new book, "French Parents don't give in" (damn it, another working mum; why oh why can't Gina Ford have written something this weekend for me to moan about?). This book is the sequel to "French Children Don't Throw Food". Morally I don't want to but I can't help it, I've already ordered it from Amazon. I'm keen to know what makes my children want to throw their fruity toast when a French child doesn't want to launch a piece of bread across the room.

To summarise: not a good weekend to be a British Alpha Parent; according to the experts, we're all crap.