Edie’s daycare had a ‘meet the families night’ tonight so we could connect with the carers of the kids our child actually hangs out with when they’re there.
Don’t they know the rules for children after the first? They don’t have any of their own friends. They’re just friends with the younger siblings of their older sibling’s friend. Edie liking them is completely surplus to my requirements. Mama doesn’t have the energy to make new friends.
Making friends is exhausting. Making parent-friends is even more exhausting because you’ve got to spend time getting to know them, (a couple of play dates at your place and theirs – end of week, late afternoon, before snack, when the kids are at their worst so you can see them in their natural habitat and either judge, be judged or bond) before you know whether or not to commit to a friendship.
It’s a taciturn agreement that neither of you wants to be friends with someone with wildly different parenting styles. Like I said, longterm judging or longterm being judged is just really, really tiring. And the one thing we do all have in common is that everyone is already really, really tired.
But if I thought making parent-friends was exhausting, it ain’t nothin’ on watching the social interactions of 6 year old girls. How can life be so complicated when you’ve only been alive 2190 days to make it so?
Yesterday Q didn’t eat her olives at school because another girl said she didn’t like them. The day before that she didn’t eat her plum because it had gotten a bit squashed and her friend had walked away, disgusted.
What do I do with that?
I am not so old that I don’t remember doing or not doing something purely because someone else said I should or shouldn’t, but peer pressure is a first for me as a parent and I don’t quite know how to tackle it.
Luckily for me, I am not alone. There are thousands of other parents floundering about out there too, so I headed straight to the Mighty Girls website and got myself some cheap parent-help books.
Well, cheap until after they were converted from US to Aussie dollars and they added 66 bucks for postage.
Watching what your peers do and doubting your own actions beside them is a time-wasting hobby Gregory and I like to indulge in, even now.
G: Did you see so-and-so is starting brunch?
Me: Yep, but remember, every time we talk about it we decide it’s not right for us.
G: Maybe we should try it anyway.
Me: Why? You don’t want to work it, the staff don’t want to work it, I sure as hell don’t want to work it.
Brunch is the most punishing shift of all. Both you and the guest are usually tired or hungover from work or antics the night before, everyone is hangry and there’s a little bit of hatred for the other party emanating from both sides. Absolutely every single reservation has at least one person who is late because ‘they can’t find parking’ (is actually just hungover) which pushes out and pisses off the guests coming after them, the barista can never make the coffees fast enough to meet demand and no one orders without personalising the menu in some way which royally pisses off the kitchen.
All in all, it’s a total punish and if you ever see me working it, you’ll know we’re in dire straits.
Often, usually late at night, Gregory comes at me with some of his get-rid-of-the-restaurant-live-another-way ideas which range from moving to the middle of nowhere, living off the land and building a tyre house, to teaching at TAFE, becoming a potter and taking over the school canteen.
Now would actually be a good time to do the latter because last week our school’s canteen provider walked out of her contract and left the school high and dry without a cheese toastie in sight. Turns out the profit margins in school food are pretty low (I hear ya sista) so she started selling contraband items on the side. Can you believe it! There she was, with her school-approved menu of dry popped organic Quinoa and dips made from yaks milk and handpicked mungo berries, and all the while she’s selling oreo cookies and zooper doopers to savvy school kids on the side. She got away with her racket for a while there too, until one of the kids was quizzed by her mum and cracked under pressure and the whole scam dissolved faster than the scoby in your average inner westie’s kombucha.
I admire people who have that sort of audacity. They are the survivors. The demanders. The mud-pit wrestlers of life who don’t care if they come out clean or dirty, so long as the job gets done the way they want it done.
Edie is one of these people.
Tonight at her daycare party, one of her teachers made a point of coming up to me to let me know that this morning Edie had told her she had fallen down the stairs. (A true story – it happened after I’d left to take Q to school – but not a remarkable one because she does this about 100 times a day). Apparently Edie had said to her; and I told those stairs, you better shape up or I’m going to pull you out and put in an elevator.
Sure, I might not have hooked up any play dates for her (although I did see her brokering a few herself) but I came away wiser than when I went in because that, my friends, is the way to get through life. Tap back into your 3 year old brain where narcissism rules and empathy is for dummies and when life gives you stairs, put in an elevator.
Catch you at the top.