Sunday, 1 November 2009

Mummy on the Edge. Families NW Mag - Nov Dec 2009

Mummy on the edge is stumped by the shortcomings of positive suggestion and Mini-Me joins an inclusive theatre.

I am not having a meltdown. I am not having a meltdown. I am not having a meltdown. Mini-Me is taking an age to get ready for school despite me chivvying her along periodically. We now have to leave in five minutes and she has not brushed her hair; neither has she eaten her porridge nor put on her shoes. What hope is there that she will finish writing her Christmas cards before Halloween 2010? I can feel my blood pressure rising but, I tell you, I am NOT having a meltdown. I have merely shut myself in the bathroom to rock backwards and forwards, head in hands, and mutter to myself, “I am not having a meltdown. I am not having a meltdown”. Not so much positive affirmation as comprehensive denial. You see, I don’t want to be a shouting mummy like pregnant, stretch-tattoo-bellied, banshee next door. I want to be a kind, understanding, patient, nice mummy equipped with All The Answers. A friend was talking to me about the power of affirmations so I tried this with Mini-Me. “Repeat after me, darling: I am quick, I am fast, I am like lightning. I can focus on what I need to do. I do not get sidetracked by a map of the world. I do my homework the day I get it. I do not practise flying on a school morning.”


Last Christmas, Mini-Me had the lead in the school play, Baboushka, which is a Russian folk tale based on the Nativity. She had precisely two tonnes of lines to learn, more than I could ever have managed to remember. I turned up ridiculously early and settled myself in the front row with my mother, my video camera and an imaginary basket of red roses to chuck on stage (thorns… health and safety). Being the beneficiary of my genes, and therefore also predisposed towards hysterical meltdowns, Mini-Me corpsed in the first five minutes. But somehow she mustered up all her Mini-moxie, and managed heroically to reign in her laughter, very convincingly portraying the exquisite pain and longing of a mother missing her child. That’s what I would have written had I been asked to review her performance for The Guardian.

This year I have more Olivier Award worthy performances to look forward to. Having reluctantly pulled her out of Speech and Drama classes in Borehamwood which were very enjoyable for her but way too much pressure and driving for me, I’ve found something which I think better suits Mini-Me’s imaginative spirit and creative zeal. Plus, it’s just around the corner from our home. HIT, Hertsmere Inclusive Theatre, is an outpost of the highly regarded Chicken Shed Theatre. With both a Youth and a Children’s Theatre Group under HIT’s umbrella, their members range from 7 to 18 years old and “inclusive” means that children of all abilities are welcomed. Those with special needs learn and perform alongside children from mainstream schools. Each individual’s contribution is solicited, nurtured and valued. HIT is headed by the effervescent Caroline England and her dedicated team who foster a heart-warming sense of mutual respect among members. Let’s face it; it always bodes well for an activity if the two children in your care scowl unforgivingly at you when you arrive 15 minutes early to pick them up. This December, the group is staging “HIT’s got Christmas Talent”. The argumentative Enid and Edna (aka Mini-Me and her little schoolpal – already a double act as far as I’m concerned) are paring juggling and cartwheels from Enid with my Edna providing piano accompaniment - something which hopefully sound a lot like “Jingle Bells” – depending on how many times she affirms: “I am a piano virtuoso and love practising every day”.

But that’s not all, a violin concert has also been promised. Mini-Me’s entire class have been selected to receive free Violin lessons along with their Year 3 teacher. Which is great, but if I could have chosen any instrument it would not have been the violin. It would have been the flute, thanks for asking. Anyway, the day of the first scheduled lesson arrived but disappointingly, neither their violin teacher nor the violins did. “It’s okay, Mummy,” Mini-Me said, “we practiced how to hold a violin with our pencils and rulers instead!” How creative, I thought. Next time there are no clean cereal bowls left, I will tell her to use a shoe. Or the NHS could save time and money by issuing bulldog clips instead of dentures. The possibilities are limitless!

Enjoy your festive concerts – whatever you are forced to watch...

Angelina Melwani runs Sing and Sign baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey, Stanmore and Rickmansworth. More info at

Info box:
Chickenshed Theatre:

Hertsmere Inclusive Theatre meets on Wednesday evenings at The Bushey Centre, Bushey Country Club. Website: email phone: 01923 499310

There is a similar outpost of Chickenshed in Harrow called Harrowshed. They meet on Wednesday evenings at Hatch End High School. Website: phone: 07939 142 545

Kett School of Speech and Drama follows a LAMDA exam system and is based in Borehamwood. Tel: 020 8207 4816