Friday, July 23, 2010

A playdate convert at last

It’s three weeks into the school holidays and already my house is ringing with those immortal words “I’m bored” at least ten times a day.

It seems, that despite his protestations at the end of term that he really was very ready for his holidays, the boy is missing school and all it entails - most notably the company of other six year old boys with the energy levels possessed only by six year old boys and no one else on the planet.

To try, the best we can, to combat the boredness - and to assuage my working mammy guilt - we have delved into the world of the playdate. This, of course, is a fancy way of saying we invite a couple of his friends round for a few hours and feed them tea and hope they all survive without killing each other.

Being a mildly OCD kind of a person, my first foray into playdates involved a mini-transformation of Chez Allan. The husband looked on in bewilderment as I hauled all babyish toys from the boy’s room and cleaned it until it shone. He tried to assure me that six year old boys care not one jot about dust in a bedroom as long as there were toys to play with. I disagreed.

I also disagreed that the patio didn’t need bleaching or the fence didn’t need treating or that the window boxes could do without filling. If - which was unlikely as it is July - it stayed dry and the boys got to play outside I wanted them to play in a nice environment.

The kitchen was scrubbed, the stairs hoovered, the bathroom practically fumigated and the scented candles lit. The last time I went this overboard in the house was two days before the baby was born. I was not nesting - I can assure you - but I was in panic mode that even a six year old boy may pass judgement on our humble house.

It was, I admit, more than a little irrational (especially when I found myself up at four in the morning pre-preparing the make-your-own-pizza treats for later). But the thing with playdates is, if you don’t do them well, no one will want to come again. And, even more worryingly, no one will ever ask you to their house in return.

For working, and stay at home mammies everywhere, the playdate which happens away from your own home is like the holy grail. It is a time when you know your child will have fun and when you know they will be safe and when you can just lie on the sofa eating chocolate and watching ‘Private Practice’. Those few hours are bliss and the mammy who takes your child becomes some sainted creature whom you want to shower with gifts.

Last week we had a bad day. The baby was sick with a horrible bokey, snottery, teething virusy thing and had taken up residence on my right hip. There was nowhere i could go without finding her beside me. There was nothing I could do without having a wee trail of baby slobber follow me looking at me pityfully through sad blue eyes. She was, as my daddy said “wile lookin’” and her wee face would have brought tears from a stone.

The boy tried to understand, as his sister demanded ‘CBeebies’ all day. (I tried to understand too, if truth be told but there is only so much ‘Zingzillas’ an educated woman can take). He tried to understand when mammy couldn’t read with him, or take him out in the car or do anything remotely fun but by lunchtime his understanding (and my patience) was waining.

It was then my phone peeped to life. One of Joseph’s friend’s mammy was taking some of his friends swimming and she wondered would he like to go. I almost leapt with joy from my seat. It was like manna from Heaven - a gift from the Gods - a chance to entertain my son and also save my sanity rolled into one.

When she arrived, to a house which had not a floor mopped, or a candle lit, or a pizza pre-prepared, and with dustballs on the stairs and the picture of misery attached to my sorry hip I could have hugged her. (I didn’t though, the last thing you want to do with a sainted playdate mammy is get them sick).

She took Joseph, and she kept him til 7pm. Sure I didn’t get to lie on the sofa and eat chocolate and watch Private Practice but I got to devote my attention to my sick little girl and I got to rest assured that Joseph was having a blast with his school friends.

He came back content and buzzing with all the latest six year old gossip (mostly about the World Cup, and dinosaurs, as it happens). I felt revived and while next time it is most definitely my turn, I’ll be more relaxed honest. Seems six year olds really do only need each other and the chance to be wee boys afterall.

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