I know you, my delicious reader… You read this blog title and thought “have to read that” because you’ve been there too. Us mummies, we’ve all been there… the play-date from hell where Satan manifests in human, 5 year old form, wearing a t-shirt, cut-off jeans and faded red Crocs. As soon as you welcome this Satan child over your home’s threshold you know, like a vampire, there’s no going back. You’re in for a whole day of tears, tantrums and trouble. You should have pushed this little devil away. You should have sprinkled holy water over his TOWIE haircut and thrust a crucifix in his face. Yet in true polite, mummy fashion, you open the door, you smile, you welcome, you settle yourself down for a bumpy ride knowing full well it’s all your own bloody fault for allowing this day to take place.
First let me state – I’m not entirely comfortable with the phrase “play-date”. It sounds too contemporary, too fashionably weird for me to use, reminding me of some terrifying double date. Although perhaps that’s quite apt. Those double dates where the women are friends but their partners have less in common than an Xbox 360 and a 50p value sponge from Tesco. Those double dates where the men are friends but their female partners use the three hours to weigh up how they compete on the scale of looks, success and glamour. Those double dates where one couple is so obviously at war that the other has to just sit back and endure the show. In fact it is a blessed rarity when the four attendees of a double date enjoy a harmonious evening. Just like a play-date there are too many possible combinations of relationship dynamics. Can it be possible that four people ALL happily get on?? Our most recent play-date tested this question.
Yesterday, the hottest day of the year, we were visited by an ex-colleague and her darling little boy. By the time he had asserted that our lounge is indeed “VERY small” and pointed in the faces of my own children while shouting “Who are you?”, it was too late. They had arrived and I was in for 8 hours of Hell. The day progressed as follows:
Satan takes the first 30 minutes of his visit to dedicate himself to the devastation of my kids’ room. Satan pours a full cup of apple juice over my 3 year old’s head (in our lounge). Rambling Red mummy calmly requests that Satan does not repeat this action. Satan asks for another drink. Satan pours a second cup of apple juice over my 3 year old’s head. Satan demands cheese sandwiches for lunch. Satan announces his hatred for his lunch. Satan’s mum screams at Satan to eat all his lunch. Satan’s mum ignores Satan’s pinching of my 3 year old’s forearm. Satan tells my 5 year old that his bike stabilisers are for babies. Satan crashes the 2 day old said bike into a brick wall. Satan shouts “Oi! Did you hear me??” after me ignoring his rude request to “Go get (his) drink”.
Do you want me to continue? I could. But I think you get the idea…
In true Hollywood style The Omen was an exaggeration – Damien doesn’t just frequent the world of U.S. politics. He’s all around us in normal peoples lives – in reception classes, in swimming lessons, playgrounds, soft play areas… There’s no true escape. The Devil is everywhere!!! However, while this prospect scares me (and rightly so) what scares me most is the person I become while surrounded by these children. You see what I find most difficult about these play-dates is that they truly test the qualities that I pride myself on most as a parent: my laid back approach, my gentle guidance, my patience, my use of humour to teach my kids right from wrong. Instead these kids bring out the worst in me. My own hidden Devil: moods, irritation, anger, impatience. The parts of me that my 35 years has taught me to suppress. But then it gets me thinking… I consider myself a relatively OK individual despite these, my own devilish qualities and surely that’s part of being human – the battle between doing what you feel to be acceptable and not so acceptable. Of course we all have our conflicting aspects. But then that means I also have to accept that these little Satan kids too have another aspect to their being. A ray of light to oppose the hellish shadow they display. If that’s the case, I guess it’s time for me to take a deep breath of tenacity and find their hidden angel. It has to be there somewhere. Doesn’t it?
Rambling Red wants to hear about your own experience of Play-date Hell!!! Please comment below…