On the Beach

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Playdates and Manners

My children love play dates, especially the older one. She always wants friends to come over.

Play dates used to be hard work as the kids were too young and enjoyment was limited to twenty minutes before the rules of toddler ownership kicked in: "That's mine!" and the tears began.

Then, from about 4.5, a halcyon period seemed to start, whereby, if  little friends came over, it meant that my kids actually left me alone for a while: the rules of possession seemed to have been somewhat relaxed and they discovered that they prefer the company of their peers to me (which is sort of cool, but sort of sad). Now, at 5.5 we're at the stage where when they come over I am obliged to watch all manner of performances and parades and  to show equal appreciation of all my small guests'  artwork.

Something that never fails to make me laugh, even at their ripe old age of 5.5 is how much they still need to learn in terms of manners, self-control and social norms. My friend and I had a conversation about how our adult meetings would look if we behaved in the same way as they do. Bear in mind, we're both the north side of 35...

Let's assume the meeting starts in the car and we're going to my house. In the period prior to the meeting  I would have made the rest of my family's life hell: "But wheeeeeeeen can we go to see her....?" I would then refuse to go to the toilet before I left the house, making myself more irritable and agitated than I already am.

As we drive, I would try and tickle her and below songs in her face. She'd tell me I was disgusting but stick her foot in my face.  As soon as we pull into the driveway, we'd open the car doors before the car had stopped and rush out, leaving the doors open and I would force her to watch me as I leapt over the wall and then raced to the front door yelling "Na, na, nana, naaaa- you're so slow...".

So, we'd get in the house and, without speaking to her, I would immediately log onto my laptop, completely oblivious to her and what she wanted to do or was doing. She. however, would be completely oblivious what I was doing and proceed to go through the drawers in my kitchen and living room, pulling stuff out, examining the contents of my house, sometimes putting things back in the drawer, sometimes not. Without warning, she'd yell: "I need a poo!!" and run off. She'd probably sing in the loo while I taunted her outside about the smell.

If I asked if she wanted tea, she'd say: 'I don't even like tea! I want coffee!". I'd make the coffee, she'd taste it and make a face and say:"Yuck, I don't even like low fat milk. Can I have water please?". (because they are fundamentally nice kids with manners-----mostly!). I'd then ask if she was hungry and offer a sandwich. "No," she'd whisper "... chocolate...". I'd take out some chocolate muffins, which she would stand near, in case anyone else was going to have any. Perhaps piling 6 on her plate, leaving most of them in a trail of crumbs around the kitchen.

We would mostly chat and have a great time, unless there was an item we both wanted, say a cookie or magazine: "SHARING IS CARING!!!".

For the sake of completeness, let's say her husband came to fetch her. She'd run to the door when it opened and yell at him "I DON'T WANT TO GO HOME." He would spend a good 20 minutes trying to extract her, tempting her with food, wine, magazines  to no avail while she rifled through the drawers she had missed first time around- until, exasperated he would say: "I'm leaving without you- bye" and head for the gate. In a last minute panic, she would rush to the gate, saying "Thank you for having me" into her chest, invariably leaving an item of clothing or some shoes at my house.

Thank goodness for years of being trained in manners! Or maybe not...it actually sounds like a refreshing way to spend an afternoon.

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