Toddlers stomping through green jelly
Guest post by Holly Duxbury
Far, far away on the north side of Norwich, something quite remarkable is happening.
I won’t say ‘exciting’ because the adjective is over used and often denotes something really dull (exciting work opportunity etc.) but what has happened and is continuing to happen at our Mile Cross King’s Venue is truly remarkable.
Since the beginning of September the Friday morning Footsteps baby and toddler group has blossomed slowly and steadily to a thriving hub of community and, in the best sense of the phrase, child-related chaos. The King’s Venue has welcomed 22 families from outside our church and 9 from within it during the last academic year. And, trust me, most of these are regulars; I know because it is a regular occurrence that floor space is at a minimum.
This detail brings me neatly onto the marvellous problem we, as team, are currently working out: too many bodies and too little space. Fear not, a solution will be found imminently and, whilst we are rejoicing in our problem and thinking of how to solve it, we continue to welcome anyone and everyone who comes in for a cup of tea, fresh toys for the children and craft.
In case you haven’t had the honour of visiting, I’ll run you through a typical Friday morning. Tanya, who heads up the team, will have prepared an exciting (I really mean it – think fireworks out of loo roll) craft activity in the foyer and the main space will be set out with soft mats, toys and books. After an hour of gradual arrivals, tea drinking and general chatter, snacks and squash are served to the kids and I read some sort of story to the group. I would never have believed it possible to read a book upside down whilst simultaneously balancing my own toddler on my knee (raisins and breadsticks make it possible). After this, Jenny or Ruth will lead the circle in the songs I have come to love so dearly over the last two years. Each week we celebrate our community with Humpty Dumpty, if you’re happy and you know it and, a song unique to King’s, a-rum-pum-pum (I’m not even sure Google knows what this one is).
And the fun doesn’t stop there; we’ve been really intentional about growing the sense of community and general significance of King’s Community Church for the parents and carers of Mile Cross. Last month, we hosted our very first Dads’ morning. Bacon rolls were consumed, mums were freed for a Saturday morning to bounce around the house feeling free and, most importantly, an opportunity was provided for our church to welcome its community into The King’s Venue. As well as this, we have also hosted a bring-and-buy sale (there is no end to Tanya’s organisation of children’s clothes), a cake sale for Children In Need, a swap shop (the idea being you swap your baby clothes for the next size up) and advice forums on subjects ranging from weaning to sleep to coping with two (a subject very close to my own heart what with the arrival of Duxbury 2 in October).
We have also begun to hold highly popular messy play sessions. Most recently, children were given the chance to experience Rosen and Oxenbury’s ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ story like never before; they were encouraged to stomp through green jelly, splash in the muddy water, roll about in chocolate cake and then cover themselves in snow (cotton wool) before discovering our very own bear cave. I was shamed by my own child’s wimpish nature (he’ll lick the edge of the bin but treading in jelly is a step too far). More opportunities for our children to cover themselves in gunk are in the pipeline.
Far, far away (if you go to City West or City Centre and are not a regular visitor to The King’s Venue) something quite remarkable and, dare I say it, exciting, is happening: the church has opened her doors wide and people and coming in. Please join us all in being excited about this and praying for the continued success of this group.