Like many members of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) here in the UK, I was on strike today as part of a protest calling for fair pay in higher education. Although the union member in me wanted to join colleagues on the picket line at my workplace, the dad in my decided to instead stay at home with my wife and son for the day.
One of the consequences of not being at work today was that I was able to go along to the Thursday morning baby club at our local health centre for the first time ever. While I was on paternity leave, the health visitors would come to see us every few days but a few weeks after I returned to work my wife and son would go down to the health centre for the weekly weigh-in, check-up and social get together at baby club.
I’d been kind of curious as to what baby club was like as I hadn’t ever been. It sounded like it was a fun and friendly place, so I certainly didn’t have an image of it as a parent and baby equivalent of Fight Club where those present were told the following:
‘There are two rules of baby club…’
‘…the first rule is that you don’t talk about baby club.’
‘The second rule is that you don’t talk about baby club.’
I was the only dad present, although that wasn’t issue to me and it certainly didn’t seem to be for anyone else. It was nice to be there to help out when our son was getting weighed and to have a chat to the midwives and see our six month old son interacting with other babies. At one stage it seemed as if he might have been about to try to grab a toy out of the hand of a playmate, but fortunately no confrontation insued. This seemed to be due to a combination mutual fascination on the part of the two babies and mutual indifference as to who had the toy.
As well as having a cup of tea and a chat with the midwives, we also talked to a representative of Twf, an organisation that encourages parents in Wales to use both Welsh and English when bringing up their children. The Twf representative told us about a baby and toddler group scheme called Cylch Ti a Fi (You and Me Circle) that takes place in lots of different local venues and provides a place for parents, carers and their kids to meet up, socialize and engage in fun activities such as singing songs and listening to stories in Welsh.
Having these sorts of opportunities on our doorstep is great. I’ve recently been reading Ana Flores and Roxana Soto’s book Bilingual is Better as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs book club. In the chapter that was reviewed this week by Kali on her blog For the Love of Spanish, the authors talked about how Latino parents in the United States sometimes have to fight really hard in order to have their kids educated bilingually in Spanish and English. We’re incredibly fortunate that in our are of North Wales, where the majority of the local population speak Welsh as a first language, there are plenty of nursery, primary and secondary schools where the teaching is either conducted entirely through Welsh or bilingually in Welsh and English.
After the trip to baby club, we dropped by at the place where my wife worked. As she’s currently still on maternity leave, she hadn’t been there for a while and it was nice to be able to show our son around and let him sit in the revolving chair in his mum’s office and I gently pushed him round and round. He seemed to enjoy this, which I reckoned he might well do given that I always loved spinning round in the big revolving chair in my dad’s office when I dropped in to visit him. I now have a nice big revolving chair in my own office and occasionally have to resist the urge to spin round and round even now that I am in my thirties.
After coming home and having lunch, I faced a challenge that I had not tried to take on before. I’d been needing a haircut for a while so was going to head into the village to the hairdressers. As my wife was pretty tired, she asked me to take our son out for a stroll in his buggy (a.k.a. stoller) to get him to sleep. Getting him to sleep, and deep enough to sleep so as he’d remain in the land of nod while I was having a trim sounded like a challenge. It was too much, I wouldn’t have been bothered as it was more important to me that I took him out for a walk, allowed mummy to have a nap and got him to have a sleep as well.
It felt a bit odd taking our son out in his buggy as we’ve only bought it recently and are still really into carrying him about in slings and baby carriers, as I mentioned in a recent post. Thankfully he fell asleep a couple of minutes before I arrived at the hairdresser’s. It felt like I’d arrived at a sort of baby club after party since I ended up parking his buggy next to another baby as the hairdressers son and daughter-in-law had dropped by with her grandson. Just as I was settling into the chair our son woke up and started crying and I apologetically said that I’d have to take him for a longer walk and would try to pop back later. Thankfully the hairdresser didn’t mind at all.
After pushing our son in his buggy along on a two mile stroll that allowed me to discover the new cycle track that his recently been built near our village, he was back to sleep again. As he’d been to sleep for about ten minutes by the time I got back to the hairdresser, I thought it’d be more likely that he’d stay asleep this time. Thankfully it worked and he stayed asleep all the way home too. When he’s fast asleep, my wife’s managed to lift the buggy up the steps and into the house without waking him up.
I was hopeful of succeeding in doing likewise and this task reminded me of an episode of late 80s and early 90s ITV gameshow You Bet! where a pilot tried to land a plane without spilling a glass of champagne that was sitting on the dashboard. I didn’t quite have the same dexterity as the pilot as our son gently woke up as I lifted the buggy up the last step, but I did complete a tidy parking manoeuvre as I managed to neatly station the buggy parallel the living room wall with enough space for another
vehicle person to get past. Overall, it felt like a case of mission accomplished.
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