I’m not a fan of the word playdate, but for ease of a title I’m going with it. And yesterday afternoon the eldest boy had one – a little girl came to play at our house of boys.
It all started swimmingly. They walked home from school hand in hand in the sunshine chattering happily. My boy gave her a comprehensive tour of the house including the shoe drawer, his collection of Autocar and WhatCar? magazines, and the cleaning cupboard. There were obviously two 2 year olds hanging onto them, desperate to join in; and predictable heartbreak from them when I told them to stay downstairs and leave the big children to play, but before long everything was relatively calm and I could hear the happy sound of two children pretending to run their own school upstairs.
Lovely Friend (let’s call her LF) had brought her pretend teacher’s resources pack with her – it is a dream for any child who, like my boy, comes home from school and immediately launches into the role of teacher, desperate to re-enact the day s/he has only just experienced. It comes complete with a bell, stickers, whiteboard, whiteboard pen and more.
I know, I’d have loved one too.
They seemed to have a pretty efficient operation going on – I could hear them running along the landing to take registers to the makeshift school office, and arranging supply teachers for Year 2 who, rather alarmingly, had been left without a teacher. It was all very impressive.
At some point I even made myself a cup of tea.
And then things started to unravel – I should have known the cup of tea was a bad idea. I heard my boy’s tears escalate into a tired, frustrated, nothing-you-say-will-calm-me-down hysteria. And the reason? The teacher’s resources kit had, after at least an hour, been tidied away; including the whiteboard. The lack of a whiteboard of his own had never been a problem before. It was definitely a problem now.
‘I NEEEED MY OWN WHITEBOARD!!! I want to be doing my phonics happily not sadly’, he managed to explain through the sobs.
I desperately wanted my boy to understand that it isn’t really appropriate to invite LF to play and then stamp around your room hysterical about not having a whiteboard. But at the same time I felt so sad that, in his utterly distraught state, he was missing time with the friend he absolutely adores. Sometimes it feels like my 4 year old is the only one who occasionally gets so tired, frustrated and overwhelmed by what seem like simple things that his whole world crumbles around him. But then I remember that he is only little – he is doing brilliantly at school, hangs onto his teacher’s every word, copes with a noisy and frenetic home life; so perhaps it’s not surprising that every so often he gets a little overwhelmed by it all.
The meltdown probably lasted a maximum of 10 minutes but seemed like forever. LF was left downstairs with the adoring 2 year olds, totally bewildered as one boy asked her to remove his shoes and the other requested a kiss for his injured foot.
Thankfully, my boy re-grouped in time for tea which was which was the usual messy, rowdy affair. Three boys competed for LF’s attention by knocking over drinks, shrieking over each other and, of course, doing their loudest dinosaur roars about three inches from her face.
After a few civilised minutes of games, LF’s mum arrived to pick her up. Everyone had cuddles and off she went.
Then I microwaved my cold tea and hoped we hadn’t put LF off ever returning to this loud, chaotic house of boys with an incompetent seeming mum.
I wanted to tell her that it’s not always like this………except it sort of is.