This one is a little more light-hearted than recent stories.

The Problem With Playgroup

The problem with playgroup is the other children. I’m sure they’re alright, but they make such a mess. I run after them and tidy up. I pick up the scooter the boy knocked over, the pushchair the girls were fighting about, the rattles the baby just threw away. I put them neatly, the way they should go. Mummy calls me her tidy little boy, her little helper. I like it when she calls me that, so I do it some more.

Mummy laughs about it to the other mummies. I’ve seen her, having a cup of tea which she insists is hot, pointing at me picking up all the lego bricks and putting them away. And she goes to the little girl’s mummy and says sorry that I’ve tidied them all away when she was still playing with them. She wasn’t still playing, she went over there to get…ah, another brick for the tower. But you see, that just proves my point. If the bricks had been tidy, she wouldn’t have had to leave her tower and I wouldn’t have tidied it away, probably.

I’m really not appreciated. Last week I went and helped two other boys who were playing in the kitchen. I think they were trying to tidy up the food – it was a mess – so I started to help them. They pushed me away so Mummy told me to go and play somewhere else. But I wanted to help the boys. So instead I went and sat near the door and watched people coming in. I tidied their pushchairs when they left them. They didn’t appreciate me either.

A new mummy came last week, with a little girl. She had hair in a ponytail like my Mummy, and sparkly pink shoes and white socks. I knew she was going to be trouble because she came in and took her coat off and threw it under the chair. I told Mummy but she just said it was ok, darling, and not to worry and go and play and let the little girl play. So I tried, I really did. All I did was go and pick up her coat and put it on the chair first. But then She started watching me. Then She started following me.

I went over and tidied a tower of big soft blocks. You know the ones I mean, they’re lovely and big and shiny and you can fall over them and not hurt yourself. Someone had made a tower of them but they were all hiddledy-piggledy so I turned them all round until they were right. I went away, and She came up behind me and knocked them over. Yes, really. Mummy didn’t understand at all. I rode on the bike and someone had left a scooter lying on the floor, so I picked it up and stood it up properly. She came and knocked it over.

It went on like that for the whole time at playgroup. I went and tidied something up, She came behind me and knocked it over again. I didn’t know what to do. I decided to go and sit in the play house all by myself. She sat outside it and swung the door.

I felt hot and angry. I made my hands into fists and banged them on the floor. I got out of the house and shouted at Her to go away. She just smiled and kept on swinging the door. I looked for Mummy, but she was getting a cup of tea. My eyes were stinging and I was getting hotter and angrier and hotter and angrier and I screamed and started to cry. Mummy came and cuddled me and asked me what was wrong but all I could do was point at Her. She was still smiling.

So this week I’m waiting for Her. I’m not going to tidy up. Not anything. I’m going to follow Her around. I ask Mummy where She is, all she can say is that She’ll be along soon probably, darling, and not to worry, and go and play. I sit and read a book – I know D for Daniel and S for snake already and Mummy says I’m very clever – and then She comes in. She’s not smiling this week. Her mummy takes off Her coat and puts it on a chair – neatly, that’s good. She sits on the chair and swings Her legs, and I see a big tear on Her cheek. I think for a minute – I’m very good at thinking – and go and sit next to Her.

“What’re you crying for?”

“Nothing,” She says.

“Yes you are. What are you crying for?”

“I hurt my knee,” She says. And She shows me her knee. It’s got a big red mark on it and the top is all scratched and bleeding.

“What did you do?” I ask, all sorts of pictures in my mind.

“I fell over outside here. I was running and I…I fell over.” She sniffs, and again, and starts to cry. I look at Her knee again. That must really hurt. I look at Mummy, who has her cup of tea and is smiling at me. I look back at Her and I don’t know what to do. There’s a pot of crayons on the table next to us. I pick them up, and pour them onto the floor. She stops crying and stares at me. I see a tower of bricks, and I knock them over. She starts to smile. I go to the kitchen and I tip all the food on the floor. Mummy’s not smiling any more, her mouth is a big wide O. But She, my girl, is laughing. And I feel warm this week.

I go back to Her and give Her a cuddle. Then I go to pick the bricks up again.

And She follows me.