Love them or loathe them the play date is something that goes hand in hand with having kids! I quite like a play date providing the child’s nice, I’ve had some bonkers children (and parents) round over the years, one little girl stripped all our beds, threw the bed linen out the window, then threw a wooden clog at my daughters head, culminating in a trip to casualty. The 23 year old still has the scar to this day.”She does that at home all the time” her mum said, “but she hit her brother on the head with a golf club last time”. I kid you not, you really couldn’t make that up. On another occasion a mum(who I hardly knew) took herself off to my bed to have a lie down while her children trashed the house.
I certainly manage to pick them, but never one to give up I’m always happy (if a little apprehensive) when one of my clan ask if “so and so” can come and play.
Over the last 24 years we have had a variety of parents coming to our house some which are a joy to have and others that are like spending time with a dementor, they literally suck out your soul, I’m half expecting rigamortis to kick in. That brings me to the should they stay or should they go question. I am quite lucky that I really do like most of my children’s friends parents, but, there are some, well you know exactly what I mean. Those parents that do not want to leave their child alone in your care. I totally get that (I’m not one of them) and respect their wishes so it becomes a double date which means conversation has to flow. The kids are quite happy to tear off and do their thing while us adults have to sit for the next couple of hours making polite conversation. I find first dates the hardest, a real ice breaker for children in the younger years is “what colour reading book is Finella on at the minute?” That gets them going for a good twenty minutes and if Finella is being moved onto chapter books, well your on to a winner. For the older children I find the whole social media and what a nightmare it is and the pros and cons of confiscating their phone. That’s a good hour, unless of course you have the total anti any form of electronic device parent in which case talk about the best university’s to send them too.
On the whole I try not to invite parents if I can help it. I feel an extra layer of pressure is added to the whole experience. When they do come I spend the whole day manically cleaning, something I know I will regret later that evening when the house will look six times worse than when we started. But we all know its a mini inspection of your home, its like the ofsted for play dates. One cobweb too many and you will go from outstanding to good in the blink of an eye. The state of your carpets will be the talk of the school, making it glaringly obvious your no domestic goddess.
The thing I get most stressed about is what to do. Are the children chosen allowed to watch T.V, are they allowed on an X-box are they going to run round the house like nutters? or are they expecting to be entertained, which is doubly awkward if you also have the parent there. Try making cupcakes with 6 year olds while their mother is watching you, it feels like being on the bake off. I’m half expecting to be told that my flavour combinations are all wrong. Crafts are not my thing, but once its established that Rowena is a dab hand with a glitter glue I feel the need to comply. The kitchen becomes a shrine to copy dex, sequins and felt all sticking happily to the table cloth and dripping on the floor. I have an amazing friend who makes the whole baking, arts and craft thing look effortless, and she really enjoys it! Go round to her house and your kids will never want to come home! I’m more of a “your rooms upstairs” kind of parent.
Once your nearing the end of your elongated evening the last hurdle is what to feed them. I normally find macaroni cheese is a winner, apart from the children who are lactose and gluten intolerant you can’t go wrong. I’ve had a child who wouldn’t eat anything green and one that was allergic to salmon. One who only ate organic “and mummy says I must see the labels” and one who had never eaten chicken that wasn’t in breadcrumb. On the whole pasta or pizza it is. I think Italians probably invented play dates or certainly the food that goes with them.
Suppers over and the end is nigh, I’m happy to be saying goodbye. That’s it till the next time, which looking at the calendar is….tomorrow.