So far Friends for Tea hasn’t been much success. One child was crying before we even got home, freaked out by our chaotic school run with Baby J arching her back and screaming in protest at being shoved from car seat to buggy and back again. Once home, however, they did all have a wonderful time playing.
The second time a friend came back my son had had a serious fall in the playground and after tea didn’t feel like playing and sat drooping on the sofa. Whilst it certainly wasn’t T’s fault I felt sorry for the guest who entertained himself with lego on the floor, waiting for his mum to arrive. I called my husband in anxious whispers, asking him to come home asap as I was worried T had concussion and how would I get four children to casualty in a hurry.
T went to a friend’s house today. It’s amazing how much time you seem to have when you don’t do the school run. I did puzzles and read stories with our second son, B, who liked the attention but missed his brother, confused as to why we had tea without him.
T loves going to friend’s houses – on one visit he played on a Nintendo Wii and has been asking “do you know which shop to buy one from?” ever since. He also loves having friends for tea, and it’s interesting to see what he proudly points out as we pull into the drive.
You learn something of their perception of their home life when they explain what’s important to a friend or compare their life with something they experience elsewhere. When I was a child I can vividly remember wanting to live in the local cul-de-sac where it was much better to ride bikes. I loved going round to my friend’s house to have soda stream and play with her Girl’s World. She was fascinated by our Landrover and just wanted to sit in the cab, calling it “the big old truck”.
I’ve realised that little things that were important as a child stay with you for the rest of your life. Which is why it can be so daunting as a parent, wondering what your child’s formative experiences and lasting memories will be.