Today, playgroup met at the Mairie du 4eme. I think that it was a very good plan because we are in the habit of throwing the kids in a sand pit and while easy and effective in terms of entertainment, there are so many things going on in Paris, we really should take advantage more. At the mairie, they had a program called "Glitterbird, de l'art pour les bébés" which was supposed to be good and someone suggested we try so Ella and I scrambled around this morning and managed to get out of the house only 30 minutes behind schedule (which is excellent for us, sad to say). As I came into the courtyard, I got a bit nervous. There was a pile of plastic tubing painted primary colors, with papier mache dragon heads on the ends. Ella jumped out of her stroller and ran right over to stick her head in the closest dragon's mouth. I was a bit less enthusiastic and got out my phone to call one of the other mom's to see if they had all de-camped to the nearest park after a quick glance at the exhibit. There was no one in sight and I started worrying about not having brought my sand toys.
When I got another mom on the phone, she said that everyone was upstairs in the Salle de Fete and that I should definitely come up as all the kids were having a great time. I pulled Ella out of the dragon and into the elevator and was pleasantly surprised at the stuff we found.
Since all of the babies in our group are under 2, I wasn't sure that they would be allowed to do everything, but one of the organizers took me around to explain how it all worked (she had to go with the school group into another room) and she said it should all be appropriate for them. The first section had nature clips projected on a white box. Some films were birds flying, another showed swimming fish, another was the sea and crashing waves, I noticed one clip of a really fluffy own turning its head. There were scenes projected on the outside of the box and on the inside, where two sides were mirrored. It was really magical and the babies adored this.
The next section was about birds. There were feathers thickly strung from the ceiling and clear bulbs hanging, with nests and birds (fake) inside. In between all this were different sorts of objects which we realized were all different sorts of bird calls. It was so much fun showing the babies how to make the noise, less fun trying to explain the difference between pinatas and the decorations they were batting around.
The third section was a water game. The object of the game was a bit obscure- there were two shallow tubs with a convex mirror inside and a sound captor. The babies were supposed to drop beads on the mirror and pour water from teapots and bowls. They also had red boots to wear. Obviously, this was the favorite game (for the babies).
After an eternity at the water games, they moved on to the last section which was something about bikes and the womb. I didn't quite get it, and when the director tried to explain it, I wasn't convinced that she understood entirely either. The babies sort of abandoned that quite quickly- 'wombs? been there, done that.' I guess-and monkeyed around on the steps up to the stage.
I felt quite lucky that Ella had no tantrums, only a minor crying jag after wiping out spectacularly when she was trying to run in stocking feet. Probably was only that bad because all the staff were standing around watching the babies play (today was the first day of the exhibit) and when she fell, she sort of spun in their direction. She was more embarrassed than anything else I think.
Afterwards, we let them loose in the courtyard, while us mommies tried to catch up with our news. Honestly, we must sound like the stereotypical bunch of hens "Brahck, brahck brahck..." We are all talking as fast as we can in the few seconds the babies leave us alone. Since no one works, our adult conversations are limited to grocery store cashiers and our poor husbands, atleast on the bad days. The babies are at that age where everyone is seeking reassurance that the horrible behavior we are suffering through is normal (absolutely, seems to be the answer). And then we all have to dash home at 12 for lunch and naps. Its a bit like Cinderella, but they don't turn into pumpkins, they turn into little rabid puppies if we get too late.
Today, I got home at the perfect time and flipped Ella into bed for a nice long nap. The house was spotless since the new cleaning lady had been busily scrubbing away all morning. I was even able to sneak down to the cave with some junk that had been laying around our place. All this cleaning lady chaos hit me at the worst moment. I absolutely need to have the house clean to feel like I have my thoughts well organized. Between the dirty floors and the endless philosophical queries thrown up by the interviews ("But WHY do you love studying statistics about gasoline?") I think my stress level has been through the roof. Hopefully this is the first sign that things are calming down. I have a mountain of projects I want to get a grip on (and about 50 mails I need to answer...) so I need all the presence of mind that I can muster.
Which makes me think- Christmas is just around the corner if I am at all interested in making homemade presents this year. I am a little bit tempted to get myself in a knitting class. I think my family would die laughing if I gave them all lumpy little scarves for Christmas. Don't know if a joke is worth that much effort, but maybe...