This summer is somewhat momentous for us because it marks the last summer before the kids go to school. Our regular Friday mornings will cease to exist as we know them, instead the kids will spend their Friday mornings at school from now on.
The core of the group met 3 years ago at the post natal classes run by the local midwifes. There the new mothers met each week to discuss parenthood and all things related, after which they would often all go out to lunch.
The classes and maternity leave eventually ended but the weekly meetings continued, 'Baby Group' meets each Friday morning at a locally run children's play sessions. They meet and converse while the kids destroy the place.
It's been interesting to watch things evolve as the children have grown. Initially we stuck around the baby corner, were everything is stuffed with cotton. Gradually we've taken over the north quarter of the room as the kids have grown in size and started to ride the vehicles. The lunch meetings started with local pubs that had enough room for 8 pushchairs, then 8 highchairs, now places with play areas.
Where ever we go we tend to take over. The chefs in the smaller pubs tend to have a very hard time just getting all of our food cooked in a timely manner, we often wait for up to an hour until our lunch order begin to appear one by one. To give you an idea of the size we're talking, there are 8 mothers that regularly attend, between them there are now 13 children under 4, 1 on the way. So counting myself that's 22. There are 4 more mothers and 6 more kids that attend more casually. During half term, or if we arrange something on a weekend all the partners attend as well. So full attendance could mean somewhere in the area of 40 people.
The baby group has been a great thing for all of us, not only have we made out own social contacts for ourselves and the kids. The kids all like each other, and generally play well together. The parents help each other out with childcare or anything of that nature. We've created a little community of our own spread across Cannock. We've even talked about all buying a big house as a group and all living in our own separate wings or creating a Koresh style village somewhere which I personally don't think is too bad an idea. In our community we would have a cake maker, dog groomer, flower arranger, gardener, a builder, and engineer, mechanic, 3 teachers, personal trainer, nursery nurse, nurse, a porter, bike mechanic, driver, a former payroller, IT specialist, a butcher, a hydraulics technician, a medical sales rep and 4 semi-professional musicians, what else do you need?
In September 12 of the kids will be starting school, so Friday mornings as we know them will come to an end. Group will be reduced overnight to only 5, which is sad in one way as we won't have nearly the same level of interaction with these 5. Where as with the 12 we've seen them on a week by week, even sometimes daily basis, we've been a part of their growing up. I can't help but we'll that the younger ones will miss out on a lot of that. I have no doubt that we'll stay in touch, we're already arranging camping holidays and several of the kids will be attending the same schools.