Hawkeye went to his first official play date this afternoon with someone other than close friends / family. It was the mother from another boy in our creche who had reached out to me and today The Mister drove us over to their house, popped his head in to say hello and introduce himself, and then ran off for some quiet grown-up time while I stayed with Hawkeye.
After a slightly reserved entrance and half of a chocolate cupcake later, he was ready to follow his friend to his room, leaving the adults behind to have a cup of tea and chat in peace. For nearly two hours. I barely heard anything. It. Was. Glorious. Without a sibling Hawkeye is quite intense in always wanting to play with us or help us or interact with us and now that he’s three he wants to do it on his terms, which doesn’t always suit what The Mister and I wish to be doing as grown ups. There is only so much “help” a toddler can provide with laundry before you start to have to throttle the urge to toss him into the washing machine with the dirty clothes in order to get him out from under your feet. So the idea of being able to send him off to a room with a play mate is just divine.
Of course, that just left me fretting about my own self, because there’s nothing like worrying about presenting yourself as an awkward, discombobulated, absent-minded mommy that can’t string two coherent sentences together to make you actually look like an awkward, discombobulated, absent-minded mommy that can’t string two coherent sentences together. As a relative introvert I find social encounters with people I am not familiar with to be exhausting and slightly frazzling, but on the plus side, when I’m nervous I talk more and that at least eliminates the dreaded awkward silence problem.
Thankfully, when you have something in common (kids of the same age) it’s very easy to move from topic to topic as you vent about your lot as parents so we had no problems filling up the two hours of conversation before it was time to take all the kids to a local pizzeria. The downside of having small kids in a restaurant, especially when you’re in the company of people you don’t know very well, is that you expend about 80% of your concentration on watching your own child and trying to head off any massive public relations disasters that toddlers can create. The upside of having small kids in a restaurant is that you spend 80% of your concentration on watching your own child, 19.95% of your concentration on your own meal and on the bits of conversation that happen in between endless rounds of “no feet on the seats” and “please sit down” and “no, don’t put pizza on your friend’s head” (yeah mine tried that once), leaving only 0.05% of your brain (a couple of frazzled brain cells hidden in some dark cobwebbed recess of your mind) worrying about your social skills.
All in all, it was a great success, I think, all the way until the very end when the excitement finally pushed Hawkeye into over tiredness or over stimulation zone. I am sure we will be organising more of these after the holidays. So next up on the worry list: pretending to be competent at making your own play date plans.
The photo is not from today’s play date, though the Gruffalo did also accompany us this afternoon. This was taken a couple of weeks ago when the three of us were out for brunch with my mother and I thought this was a good image to demonstrate what I feel like in the mornings before I can sit down with a cup of tea or cappuccino and gather my wits. The crazed orange eyes in particular, I think, really say a lot about how demented I can be in the morning before reason and logic start filtering through the morning fog.
Also, this is the lot of parents on play dates when out and about: phones and toys, keeping knives out of hands of small people, moving cups of water out of the way of flailing, uncoordinated elbows, and trying to have a grown up conversation in between choruses of “mommy, mommy, mommy”