Yesterday MrS and I went to a celebratory BBQ for a friend’s 40th birthday.
When we arrived there were already several others there, notable for their collection of small children, all crowded under the shade of the gazebo. The friends have a little girl of three and these were the “nursery parent” friends. It’s a very long time since I was somewhere where there were very small children en masse, probably since my own were that small.
Because I’m quite smiley, children are usually attracted to me as someone they might be able to convince to play with them. But yesterday I just sat and watched and felt immense relief that actually I’ve been there and done that, and I am entitled to sit back and watch others cope with their own offspring just the way I did. I watched them refereeing fights over toys (the little girl was, ahem, territorial to say the least); calming tantrums; trying to convince them to eat some ‘proper food’ before eating cake. I watched them try and eat more than a few mouthfuls before having to rush off again.
I watched the different behaviours exhibited by those who have only one child and those dealing with 2. By the time you have more than one child you realise that they’re pretty robust creatures; that if they don’t eat what’s on their plate they will not starve; that by the time you’ve heated up Henry’s ready made (but organic, natch) Spag Bol because he ‘won’t eat that’ he will indeed be ‘eating that’ because he’s seen all his peers ‘eating that'; that you have to pick your battles~ so what if Phoebe wants to wear wellies with her dress? Just take some sandals with you in case, at some point, she realises it’s hotter than Hell’s waiting room outside and sandals might be the better option!
There was talk of having more, there was more refereeing, there was talk of which hospital, more refereeing, talk of schools. Then the first to declare it was bed time left with the departing cry that there would be a very large gin and tonic waiting for her on the other side of bath time. And very well deserved it was too.
Sometimes I miss my children being small. This was not one of these times. MrS and I enjoyed hot food, cold drinks, and sitting in the sun. We started conversations with these parents but weren’t offended when they had to dash off to some small crisis halfway through. We just smiled and thought ‘thank goodness we don’t have to do that anymore’ and came home to enjoy one last GandT with the grown up off spring who have survived our parenting.