Sunday, 16 December 2007

You know it's going to be a good morning when

as you are leaving home to go to Church you get a phone call. It's rarely good news. In this case, it was the lady who was supposed to be running creche, bowing out as her daughter had suddenly made it very obvious she had a bad stomach bug. And before you suggest she could have left daughter with her husband, not a possibility; he was preaching. Oh, and to add to the festivities, she apologised for the fact the person due to help her with creche had had to leave the country on urgent business. Person number three on the rota would be coming but would be late. Ever felt set up?

No problem, we marched to church a little faster than usual to be met with a stone cold coffee lounge (where we hold the creche) full of high and unstable piles of chairs. Marvellous; it's a carol service this evening and a lot of extra parishoners were expected. Someone had kindly taken the chairs out of the cold store and left them in the coffee lounge to heat up for tonight. This would have worked better if someone else had not switched the heating off, and better yet if whoever had moved the chairs had considered the fact that the coffee lounge would house a dozen toddlers in the morning. By now I definitely feel set up.

OK, it's 9.03, church begins and 9.30 and children start being dropped off at 9.20. I locate the keys to the toy cupboards, wade through the stacks of chairs and manouvre them into slightly more stable positions. A teenager arrives with two heaters; we plug these in and guard them with chairs. Should stop any child no longer crawling. For some reason the sharp pointy coffee tables which are normally safely stacked along the walls have been placed artistically in the centre of the room together with half a dozen of the less stable chairs. These find their way swiftly over the counter into the kitchenette, where I will later kick them and bark my shins whilst preparing snacks.

In the middle of the furniture shifting our first "crechette" arrives; small girl who speaks no english. Harrassed parent apologises for being early, explains he is leading the service and runs out. At 9.31 precisely we will discover she has a large and smelly nappy (diaper), and no changing bag. I locate a nappy but my bag proves to be devoid of wipes. It's normal policy to fetch a parent to change a child, but in this instance it is not possible. So I find myself, yet again, up to the elbows in poo, only this time it has not come from one of my own children. Lovely. I post the child into the only available nappy, one of Mogs, and tape it up - it comes up somewhere near her armpits. Child coughs and splutters throughout the procedure and generally looks pretty unwell.

Meanwhile thankfully 2nd parent helper has arrived. We are both officially "helpers" only, not leaders, but thankfully she knows where the biscuit tin is kept hidden, and I know how to fill in the register. Our teenage helper arrives, as does another parent, also expecting to stay. This is great news. Until the message comes through; she's actually booked to help with the next group up and has got the weeks wrong. Oops. Still, she ropes in her husband who gamely agrees to stay with us.

We are in luck. Apart from non-english-speaking-snotty-smelly-nappy-girl, we have just nine other children, four of whom belong to the various helpers. This includes no pre-walkers, so the heaters are safe. Unfortunately, it does include the monster creative little individual who is at that trying stage some children go through of lashing out at any child who crosses his path. Or who stands still but is in his path. He only gets three children, and only leaves one bruise.

We have no craft activity and agree that although the official programme states otherwise, we consider this to be a bonus. Ten toddlers and a pot of glue; not the best for me or you. We make snack time last extra long. We sing many many extra verses of Old McDonald - did you know he had dolphins on his farm? They leap. We have two signing children in the creche; unfortunately the two signing Mummies (myself and the 2nd helper, coincidentally the parents of the two signing children, what are the odds?) don't know the sign for dolphins. Never mind.

Finally and thankfully the service ends and we are rescued by the various other parents. I leap over to the next group up to rescue Mog; she has it appears been sitting doing exactly nothing for the hour; I forgot to remind them that she likes to join in. Still, it's over, she joins us back in creche and we scrape the playdough off the carpet. By the time this has been done as well as we can, there is no coffee left next door. Trauma.

I head home via a quick trip to Budgens for milk and bread. As we leave the shop, the bag snaps and my shopping spreads itself across the carpark. Haven't yet decided whether that was divine retribution for shopping on a Sunday or for using a disposeable plastic bag.

The day picked up after that. Just as well really. But if it makes you feel any better, I just spilled Mog's drugs all over her bed instead of pushing them through her G-tube.

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