Once a week, I take my two munchkins to playgroup. It’s a nice local group and my favourite thing is that all the mums and kids are friendly and everyone gets along. While we usually meet at the playgroup facility, every now and then we venture out on an excursion. This week, instead of heading to our normal playgroup session we attended a council run event celebrating Children’s Week. I was pretty reluctant about going along, to be honest. Council run events I’ve attended in the past have been… well, pretty lame actually. Sorry council, but it’s true. Clearly I’ve not been to every council organised event ever created, but my previous experiences have been total let downs. I consoled myself with the knowledge that even if the event sucked, the venue had a lovely café for us mummies and a rad playground for the kids.
As I loaded my little monsters into the car that morning, it was raining. I wondered if it was a sign but I’d already promised Orion that we were going, so we went. And I was surprised. There was so much for the kids to see and do that even in two hours we rushed to see it all. Around every corner was a new surprise, something else to do, see, touch, ingest – you get the idea. Orion was in heaven. First we visited the animals and laughed at wallabies, patted an escaping turtle and ooohed at a crocodile. After a brief jaunt on the playground, Orion made a necklace at a nearby stall and proudly declared it was for Piper – she couldn’t stop squealing and laughing when he draped it around her neck with all the ceremony of a gold medal being awarded at the Olympics. I wasn’t sure if she’d keep it on but when I tried to take it off her a brief wrestling match ensued and… well let’s just say she wore it all day and there were tantrums at pyjama time.
There was a huge room set up with music and dress-ups, but Orion had seen the face painting and he was desperate. We lined up for twenty minutes (or rather, I lined up while he played nearby) but when it was finally his turn he changed his mind and Piper got her face painted instead. She sat very solemn and still while the art work was being done, but when I showed her the work by way of my phone camera, she was delighted.
We parked the pram off to one side of the big play area and the two of them ran and ran and ran and ran. There were so many council-provided supervisors that no child was ever truly unattended, and there was someone on hand at every activity to help the kids jump through hoops, balance across beams and crawl through tunnels. When I thought their little legs might give out, I steered us over to a stand where some kind ladies were encouraging the kids to decorate calico bags with fabric markers. I especially appreciated it when one lady made room on a different table for Piper, who was too short to reach the table the big kids were using. She spent a fair bit of time trying to draw on her own face, but in the end they had a goodies bag each which will come in handy in the future.
A stand offering DIY fruit skewers looked fun, but Orion decided that none of the correct fruits were present. The women behind the bench laughed like crazy as he marched up and down in front of them, hands clutched behind his back, tutting and huffing because there were no green apples or bananas. Hidden around behind the café we found the dental hygiene stand, where kids were given free toothpaste and a toothbrush if they demonstrated how to brush the teeth of the giant dental model. The woman was so impressed with Orion’s attention to detail that he walked away with four tubes of toothpaste and two brushes, one of course being for Piper because he always makes sure she doesn’t miss out.
The lovely art section that offered six or seven different activities including watercolours, chalk and clay was a little hidden around the corner. We didn’t come across it until the last minute, so Orion wasn’t particularly interested given he’d spent almost two hours running. He dabbled briefly while I tried to convince Piper that the paintbrushes didn’t have food on them, then we moved on. It was shame because normally he loves to paint! The last stop of the day was a table where an incredibly patient man was supervising kids hitting nails into boards with a hammer. Orion’s fingers were so itchy he actually grabbed a hammer out of another boy’s hand while the poor kid was swinging back to hit a nail. We had a brief talk about snatching and apologised before Orion was given a hammer to himself. I spent ten minutes watching (Piper got bored and ate a biscuit) while he mindlessly hammered away, laughing like a maniac.
I could see they were exhausted so we said goodbye to our playgroup friends and headed back towards the car, skipping several other activities on the way. Orion and Piper were both starving, but the food provided at the event was a sausage sizzle, which had a queue miles long and wasn’t appropriate for our food intolerances. Back by the realtive quiet of the car, I took a few minutes to offer the snacks I had bought along. Because I had underestimated the size and scope of the event, I only had some biscuits and dried fruit. It was a bit funny watching the two of them snatching entire handfuls of sultanas and dried apricots and shovelling them into their mouths, but I wished I’d thought to pack sandwiches. A lesson for next time.
Piper was literally asleep by the time I had finished buckling up her seatbelt. Orion stayed awake on the way home but he was very quiet, resting and cuddling his teddy. When I asked him his favourite part, he said “all of it.” I’m taking that on board as a win. So it was a lesson learnt for me – that old cliché of not judging a book by the cover. We had an absolute blast and my only wish was that if I had known it was going to be so enormous, I’d have asked Marshy to take the morning off work. He’d have loved joining in on all the running and tumbling and playing. For me, I’ll never judge before I go somewhere ever again!
What about you? Have you gone along to something, expecting it to be half baked, only to be pleasantly surprised?