Wednesday 21 January 1998
Like our baby's keep-fit class. They said PE kit was not required. Dress in your usual clothes, they suggested. Come before work and play along with the music. Sounds good. However, I leave my suit at home as a precaution. Cords (tie scrunched in pocket) are best for crawling around. And I keep my pager, that badge of office life, clipped on belt. So everyone knows that this isn't my whole world, that another life could at any time claim me back, that Something Very Important might need my attention.
We're sitting on the mat, me and toddler, trying to keep up with the others. It all feels very familiar: hall with wood-blocked floor; tall windows you swing open with a big pole; the start of a new class where everyone seems to know what to do; the whiff of smelly feet. I remember being somewhere like this as a child, the panic of falling off the wooden horse, landing winded on my back. And then there's that old self-consciousness - when asked to remove my shoes, why do I always find a hole in my sock?
"Heads and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes" sings a very nice, very brisk lady. But I keep putting my hands on my head when they should be on my toes. Child looks lost and bemused. And before we've got the hang of that, we're on to the next verse: "Eyes and ears, mouth and nose, mouth and nose..." Oh dear, I think, here I am, a grown man with his own pager, still uncomfortable about not keeping up with teacher.
It's meant to be fun. What could be more innocuous than singing "Row, row, row your boat/ Gently down the stream"? But I know it's a sneaky abdominal exercise (or "abs", as grown-up gym aficionados always call them), designed for developing a washboard stomach.
Suddenly, we're out of the boat, standing up and bending over. "I'm a little teapot/ Short and stout/ Here's my handle/ Here's my spout." Aha - here comes a sideways stretch: "When the kettle's boiling/ Hear me shout/ Lift me up/ And pour me out."
But our child isn't interested. She's not conforming to gym culture, not bothered about being a teapot. Up she gets and wanders off to the trampoline. That's my girl.
Life & Style blogs
Google Maps hides image of Android robot urinating on Apple in surprisingly insolent Easter egg
KickassTorrents down: new Isle of Man domain taken offline just hours after launch
Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, family owned m...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW Londo...
£14560 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Even though their premises have...
£44000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Marketing company based in cent...