‘You didn’t come back this week!’ said my neighbour, Vanessa, as we queued for coffee in the church hall.
I didn’t feel the need to tell her that my confidence had been knocked a little by the frosty reception I received on my first visit to ‘Rhymetime’. Magnus the librarian was thoroughly welcoming and happily wrote a sticky name label for Jocasta to wear.
Some of the mothers, however, seemed perturbed by the presence of a stay at home Dad. They all seemed to know each other and were clearly such regular attenders that Magnus had pre-prepared badges for their children.
I threw myself into proceedings, nonetheless, and sang the rhymes with gusto.
It was halfway through ‘Incey Wincey Spider’ that I thought I caught some non-verbal communication occurring between two of the mothers. Some kind of signal passed between them involving a nod towards me. Both women had younger babies – as well as their Sofia/Sophias. They began to unbutton their cheesecloth blouses and, each with a steely eye on me, started breast-feeding.
I was not put off by this nursing offensive. I carried on singing and making spider
hands. It was at this point that Magnus announced the banana break. His assistant
emerged with a platter of sliced fruit.
The nursing mothers whispered to their Sophia/Sofias that they should hurry and get some fruit as a reward for all their wonderful singing. I wasted no time whispering and shoved Jocasta in the general direction of the fruit.
‘Nana!’ cried my youngest. As she motored towards the platter, she inadvertently winged a Sophia/Sofia and sent her into a bean bag.
I heard at least one gasp from the Sophia/Sofia side of the room and smiled in the general direction of the mothers.
Mother one reciprocated with an incey wincey smile. Mother two looked past me and switched breasts.