You know what’s most surprising about those years your beloved little person starts school?
You haven’t met this many new people since YOU started school.
Suddenly, you’re the one at the school gate who’s walking away, and there are whole new set of rules to learn.
What you quickly work out is that, when it comes to the politics of the school gate, it isn’t actually you who makes the calls about who “we” will be friends with, and who “we” won’t. It’s the kids. If little Tommy likes little Abby then you and Abby’s mum had better get along, or it’s going to be a VERY long year.
The kids don’t care how their parents feel about Abby’s parents. The kids just want you to leave them alone to play. They just want to be free to hang out and play, to just be, and they need a home to do it in.
Wherever your kids are on the schooling ladder, what matters to them (and their brains, according to many experts) is that somewhere in their busy schedules of piano practice, Chinese lessons, soccer Saturdays and homework, homework, homework, they get time to get out of our sight and get dirty, to rumble and play and generally behave like a pair of boisterous puppies.
Meanwhile, the grown-ups are tying themselves in knots stressing out about playdates. There are some parents who are very, very good at playdates. They always seem to have something warm and wholesome coming out of the oven, the art supplies are already laid out on the tables, an afternoon of improving activities is already planned, followed by a nutritionally-balanced dinner, right on time.
"They just want to play and your place is just a space to do it in." Image. iStock.
And then there are the rest of us. The ones who worry, just a little, about what our play date says about us.
If that's you, you'll find this list familiar. But just remember, all of these stresses are all about you. The kids? They just want to play and your place is just a space to do it in.
It was a big one for you, sending out that text message, ‘Dear... damn, what’s her name??? My phone only says Abby’s mum!!!.... "Would Abby like to come over and play with Tommy on Saturday afternoon? You’re welcome to stay, of course, but it’s fine if you’ve got things to do.” (Please don’t stay, please don’t stay, I’ve got a work presentation to write, and I really don’t know you well enough for two solid hours of conversation).
Press send. Cross fingers.
It's all good. She’ll drop and run.
It’s also best to prepare for every possible eventuality including the icky things kids can share between each other. Nits, worms, bugs and sniffles – preparation (and treatment on hand) is key. Inevitably, kids can share everything from toys to germs to worms, from physical contact during playtime. Lots of disinfectant and hand sanitiser can help, especially before tea time. If they happen to catch worms, having those deworming chocolate squares handy will be helpful, and save you the after bedtime pharmacy run.
2. Catering angst.
Uh-oh. Allergies. Everyone’s got one these days. Where’s that recipe for nut-less, flourless, dairy-less carob cookies? Yes, they’re tasteless too, but at least you won’t be responsible for hospitalising anyone. Better to be a rubbish cook than... Yes, you're right, maybe you should just shop-buy.