I like you, I really do. I think we have similar values and tastes. We care about the environment, gender equality and free education.
We’re not career-driven or materialistic. We like discussing politics and going out for drinks. Basically, we’re both middle-aged, middle class hippies. Our parenting styles align in many ways too. We cook snacks rather than buy processed junk. We have strict screen-time limits. We’re kind but firm. We try to be involved in the school community.
So I like you, I do. And I like your kids, too. They seem nice. They don’t brag about having the latest toys and devices. They’re well mannered. And they play well with my kids. The whole situation seems almost perfect.
But when you try to organise a playdate I feel sick, and I make up an excuse so I can decline your invitation. You must think I’m incredibly busy! “Oh, going away for the weekend, sorry!” I say. “No good this arvo – dentist appointment after school.” I lie because my kids can never go to your place for a play.
Because I don’t like your husband.
I did like him, initially. When we first met I thought he seemed like a nice enough bloke. He’d come to pick up your eldest daughter from our house. He was friendly, and we’d engaged in a bit of small talk while we’d waited for the kids to finish their game.
The next time we crossed paths, however, he did something that didn’t sit well with me. I was doing the school pickup, standing in my usual spot near the front gate. Your husband was there too, but he didn’t see me. When the bell rang our girls came out together and walked straight up to him. I was about ten metres away, so I couldn’t hear their conversation, but I saw your husband tickle my daughter under her chin.