THIS NEXT sentence is probably not going to win me any parenting awards but I have to get it off my chest. I HATE playdates! It's hard enough trying to entertain my own kids without having to entertain someone else's kids, who I barely know and usually come attached to a whole list of instructions: “she doesn't eat sugar. He's allergic to peanuts. She's on gluten free. Don't give him coke. I'd rather he didn't play the Xbox.” The list goes on.
But since kids don't just hang out on the street together anymore playing rounders and tag, playdates seem to have become the norm especially with little girls who are actually far higher maintenance than boys when it comes to entertaining. Boys will kick a ball or disappear into a bedroom playing nintendo, happy as Larry. Girls want Mum involved.
“Ellen's mum made cakes with us,” the Youngest told me on the eve of Ellen coming to our house. “Sure I'll buy you a big chocolate cake,” I suggested hopefully.
“That's not the same,” replied the Youngest. Feck! I ended up buying a packet of Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix and praying they didn't realise all the baking consisted of was adding water!
Needless to say I was less than enthusiastic when she asked could R and M come for a playdate last week but relented when I found her huddled outside her brother's bedroom sobbing because he and his pal wouldn't let her in!
R and M arrived the following day in a haze of glitter, friendship bracelets and One Direction tee shirts. There was fierce excitement as they disappeared into the playroom. “This might be ok,” I mused. “They might just play away themselves.”
TEN MINUTES later three eager little faces stood before me. “What are we doing next mum?” Christ! and it was only 12.45 pm. “Right what about a bit of lunch and then we'll go to the park?” Sorted.
I threw a few sausages on the pan and buttered half a sliced pan before calling them to the table. R looked distraught. her big brown eyes gazed up at me and she said, “I can't eat pork.” It took a minute for the penny to drop. Oh No! So that's why she wasn't making her Holy Communion! She was muslim. And I'd never had a muslim for lunch before. I started to break out in a sweat.
Then M pipes up from the other end of the table. “Actually I don't eat sausages either. I'm vegetarian.”
I seriously contemplated opening a bottle of wine there and then but I knew they'd tell on me and their parents would probably contact Childline or Joe Duffy or something.
“Tell you what? Why don't we go to McDonalds as a treat?” I suggested. That way they could order what they wanted and I wouldn't be blamed.
“My Mum says McDonalds is really bad for you,” says M. “Your mother is a pain in the arse,” I thought. I half expected R to want to go to the Indian, but no she was happy with McDonalds.
So being the bad mother I am, I brought them to Maccy D's where M managed to wolf down a Big Mac Meal despite her mother's misgivings and little R had nuggets and chips. Afterwards we want to the park and they climbed trees and teased boys while I wondered would I have gotten away with hiding a naggin in my inside pocket!
I dropped them home all smiles. “Did you have a good time?” M's mother asked her. “Yes but we want to McDonalds.” M's mother's smile faltered.
Never again I tell you. Never again!