This term the twinlings have been getting into whole ‘play date’ thing. We’d kept things quiet in the first term, but I was noticing some wistful glances at other classmates off to friends’ houses after school – while the twins faced another long winter’s evening at home with me.
Pickle’s pretty gregarious. At pre-school he had a couple of playmates he stuck with, but at school he seems to play with all the boys in his class. Ladybird is very discerning, swathes of girls are dismissed for crimes like ‘talking too fast’. It’s very black and white, they’re either a great friend or they just don’t exist – there’s no middle ground.
Ladybird is also drawn towards the older girls. The juniors are clearly goddesses to be worshipped and they in turn seem to like mothering the Reception girls. And all this love can be intense. After school we get to the end of our road, Pickle and his friend kiss each other good night while the friend’s 8 year old sister hugs Ladybird, telling her she misses her already. It’s hard for me and the other mum to know where to look.
When we’ve had friends over we’ve invited a girl and a boy so no-one feels left out. And sorry to fall into gender stereotypes here, but they do play differently. While Ladybird takes friends off to her room for secretive games of doctors and nurses, Pickle quite often clears off to his room by himself, leaving his guest on his own downstairs.
And then there’s the gooseberry, me, lingering by the girl’s door, desperate for an invite that never comes. But hospitals are notoriously short-staffed, I think, surely their game could do with an extra nurse with experience in administering Calpol. When I do open the door, on some pretence about what they want for tea, they become silent, waiting for me to leave.
The whole friendship thing is confusing enough now and I’m sure it’s only going to get more complicated. They’re so young but already forming their own independent relationships and make their own mistakes. It’s hard to explain why a friend who tells you to go away is still your friend.
I know I only get the edited highlights, what they remember, usually missing out what they’ve said that led to the ‘go away’. I’ve surrendered ever really knowing and understanding what’s going on now. Take the Christmas party – in the first term I’d been surprised when Ladybird told me she’d stopped playing with a friend she’d really loved before starting school, but when I was a fly on the wall at the party the two girls were holding hands, running and dancing together the whole time. I said afterwards ‘oh, so you had fun with x today’ and she looked at me blankly, did I mum, I don’t remember that?
Either I’m going to have to invest in some spy equipment or just leave them to it.