Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Toddlers’ stage invasion

Toddlers’ stage invasion

Fearne Cotton
Phyllis Court Club

ARE you sitting comfortably, children?

The honest answer is not really — most were toddling around, sleeping, feeding, crying and all the things that babies do. Mums were pacing, rocking, breastfeeding, consoling and laughing.

In short, it was chaos, but wonderful chaos.

Fearne Cotton began by reading her new children’s book, Hungry Babies, which, for any parent, describes the terrifying and exciting world of feeding children but in a lovely story accessible to all pre-schoolers.

It is beautifully illustrated by Sheena Dempsey and there is something new to discover on each page.

Amid the noise and babble of babies, Fearne talked about the nightmare that is feeding children and the anxiety that comes with it.

She had parents and grandparents nodding along as she described the guilt associated with what we feed our children.

“Wait! Stage invasion!” she laughed as a toddler climbed on to the stage and crawled towards her. The audience clapped.

This was the essence of the reading: children. And they were enjoying it, if perhaps not listening.

The conversation resumed with the idea that food gives children a voice — it is the first thing they can really be opinionated about because they can refuse or accept it or just mush it into a mess.

“Another stage invasion,” Fearne chuckled. This time a little girl, standing and waving at everyone.

The discussion continued regardless — as the background noise became louder, the ideas became more serious.

There is more pressure on this generation of parents than ever before and Fearne described it as a “comparing and despairing” culture, with mums exposed more and more to what other mums are doing on social media, which shows mainly the ups of parenthood but not the tantrums in the supermarket or the exhausting broken nights.

And so, in the middle of the mayhem, were nuggets of seriousness, as every aspect of raising children today was touched upon, including, motherhood and careers and our culture of anxiety about the choices we make for our children.

But it didn’t feel serious and at the end, as Fearne explained, she too had to rush home for swimming lessons, nursery pick-ups and to cook tea.

By this time several children were dancing on the stage and she summed the event up perfectly, and perhaps parenthood too, when she said it was all just “excellent fun”.

Laura Healy

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