Monday, 5 August 2013

sorry, the cows ate your surfboard


The fact is I'm not very good with small children and I just manage with my own. I can get very anxious and overwhelmed when too many kids are around me.
Looking back I see that I have always been prone to shying away from noisy bunches of children, even as a child I preferred to be on my own. As an adult I'm not much different and prefer one on one interactions. Secretly I find "girl's night" very scary. Events like kiddies birthday parties, play dates and mass social gatherings - that include all of our friend's off-spring - are also among my very least favorite pass times. And judging by my children's behavior at play dates, I fear my girls' may have inherited my awkward social tendencies.
Play dates seem to be the in thing these days, but I think that unless you need to farm your child out because you have a work deadline or, more importantly, are in desperate need of "me" time, there's no point - given that they have spent four hours of the morning with their friends in the well organised environment of play school.
Having said this I do still organise play dates for my girls because they ask for them and one does need to reciprocate to others. But my fear of lots of children, coupled with the twin factor, puts a whole new spin on these dates and careful thought needs to be given to the execution of them.
At first, thinking there was no way I could cope with four children at once, I used to invite one friend for the two of them to share. But this quickly proved to be a highly ineffective way to meet their social needs. The entire afternoon would be fraught with one and then the other wailing in despair that the friend "doesn't want to play with me!" The poor friend would be end up at her wits end and not sure if she wanted to be friends with either of them. To say the least it is not an afternoon off for me where I can catch up on my novel, while casting the occasional eye at three happily playing little girls. No, its more like a couple of hours of an intense child psychology practical exam!
So then I came up with one stays at home with a friend while the other goes away to a friend. This does work the best but not without its challenges. Having always had each other to fall back on they appeared slightly socially inept - but this probably goes for most five year olds.
Recently, however, I decided to brave a double date after an earlier attempt had gone well. This time I did the usual lecture and threats that should there be any fighting over friends they would not be having play dates again until they were 18! Maybe the pressure was a little too much for them, its hard to say, but by the time we arrived home from school each twin had given it her best shot at a tantrum and I was having a hard time at faking "sweet mommy" in front of their poor friends. To say the least I was pretty wound up that afternoon and did a good job of keeping my cool, I believe.
When finally it seemed we were at breaking point and I'd run out of successful distractions, I decided the time to cool off in the farm dam had come and donning hats and shoes four ways I sent them off down the hill while baby and I followed in the 4x4.
"Great," I thought, "a bit of physical fun to keep them preoccupied." The plan was to grab the old foam surfboard we'd left there and for them to paddle around the dam on it. But the trouble was that when we got there, the cows had eaten the surfboard! Cows do stupid things like that.
"Great," I thought again, "thanks cows!" as my two, sorely disappointed, began to rev up for a round of punishment aimed in my direction. My plan had been thwarted. So I took a deep breath and with Adam on my hip and my best "sweet mommy" demeanor, I pushed the twins into the middle of the dam in a leaking kayak with a pole as a paddle, and told them to make their way back to shore. Which they did. And in the process forgot about their friends and their inter-twin competition and instead displayed a sisterly teamwork unique only to those who have shared a womb.