I’m half way through the first week of the school holidays. The winter school holidays. I’m also at the end of an all day double playdate. A double playdate is one where each of my boys has one of their friends over. That’s four boys under ten in my house that I work from home from. Are you on board the train to hell yet?
Of course, I didn’t make these arrangements by accident. I thought them out and
stupidly idiotically naïvely
thought it would be EASIER having playmates for my kids. So then I could
continue to work from home while they
entertained themselves. Oh, don’t worry. I can see you shaking your head from
It’s not like the entire day was hell. There were moments of sheer glory. When each son played quietly in their respective bedrooms with their mates. Lego and Test Match Cricket kept them entertained for about 45 minutes each. They did a bit of ball kicking outside and there were the PS4 sessions which peppered the day and thankfully didn’t consume it.
But kids these days [oh FFS, did I actually just say that??] don’t cope with boredom too well. And in the down times they were stuck. And every time they got stuck they gravitated to a screen. And I wanted to scream. Which of course I couldn’t because we had outsiders in the house. Outsiders whose mums undoubtedly DON’T scream and probably smile with amusement when their kids complain that they’re bored and come up with some interesting activity that grows their kids’ brains or something.
So I went all ‘perfect mother’ on their bored arses and serenely suggested they ‘go outside’… “go have some fun boys! Kick the ball or play basketball or climb a tree!”
And eight eyes were rolled. And four of them looked apologetic and possibly even dismayed that those words came out of THEIR mum’s head. I can just imagine what the outsiders said when they got home. “It was ok Mum but their mum told us to go outside. In the winter – who does that?”
So they did go outside for a while and then they moped around from room to room trying to come up with an idea to stop the boredom. Because life is so boring. This life which is full of board games and ball games and friendships. And I tried to ignore them and not intervene with my ridiculous suggestions. At one point I heard one of the outsiders ask one of my boys “So what do you usually do?” and I strained to listen to the answer because I wanted to know too…
Back in my day [yes, I'm going there] kids would just rock up at their friend's houses. There were no playdates and there were no activities. There were just mates hanging out in each other's space. If that got boring you'd head out into the street to see who else was around and then there'd be a posse of bored kids. Which, just quietly, didn't always end well... if you catch my drift! The point is, you sorted shit out yourself. If I ever had the balls to whinge to Mum that me and friends were bored she'd make us weed the garden!
I had one activity totally worked out for them. If you have sons then you will know that they could fill their entire day simply with eating so I covered that off. Fruit and lollies and homemade pizza and hotdogs and juices and popcorn and donuts. All the essential boy food groups were covered. But boys tend to inhale food, on the run so that filled up about an hour, in total, of their day. Or should I say, ‘our’ day.
They worked it out in the end. They made a game that involved all four of them. One person had to hide a small ball and the rest of them had to find it. Sounds pretty cool huh? Yep. Except that the game is played INSIDE and part of the rules seemed to be that while you were searching for the small ball you all had to scream. That’s four boys SCREAMING in my house and it took all my efforts to NOT tell them to use their ‘inside voices’ or ‘go outside’ or say anything at all to discourage the game because I was pretty happy that they had done almost exactly what I had hoped. They made up their own game, inclusive of everyone that didn’t involve a screen. Just a whole lot of fucking SCREAM.
Of course all attempts to work at that time had became entirely futile. Because they were screaming and running around the house in socks on hard floors and there are corners on all the furniture and doorways and no matter how hard I try to remember I constantly forget that my kids aren’t toddlers anymore. So I wiped the kitchen benches multiple times while smiling and gently reminding the boys to ‘take it easy’ and ‘slow down’ and ‘watch your head’ as they zoomed past me in laps.
A hundred times that day, I wondered why I did it. And then our guests were gone and so was the noise and the boys were tired and so grateful.
And it all made sense.
Are you into hosting playdates?