I’ve been wondering whether I should write about this for a while because it’s something that’s been on my mind, but I imagine it’s a sensitive subject.
I did think it was unique to me and that I was the only person affected but then I saw a friend on Facebook, Georgina, doing an article for a well known magazine about play dates (good and bad experiences) and it brought back fresh memories and a very recent incident.
Over the (very) long school holidays I had, on any given day, 2 – 5 kids at the house. Some days were easier than others but overall, I felt like I was in hell. We do have a helper but she’s not great with children and I think they sense it. Ben torments her and Emma, well, Emma just pretty much ignores her. So it’s up to me to stop Ben and his pal spray painting their scooters silver and I need to make sure that when they’re ‘gardening’ a fork isn’t going in anyone’s foot.
I do have my little tribe of fellow moms, who support one another, physically (holding the champagne glass for us while we
sip gulp because we’re too tired to), emotionally (sharing their prescribed happy tabs when we’ve run out) and spiritually (literally, with spirits, found at in the alcohol aisles at most stores) and during the holidays we reciprocated with play dates, outings or a few hours off for each other.
Ben’s best buddy, Kopsi, is ALWAYS at our house. He is the unofficial 3 child. BUT Ben and Emma are often at his house. And if I’m popping out with my kids I happily take Kopsi along, because in a day or two I know his mom or dad will pop their head over the wall, letting me know they’re taking Emma and Ben for an hour or two. So there for me is a situation that benefits everyone. Kopsi’s mom has a new baba and on various occasions she’s mentioned how much we’ve helped by keeping him busy or letting him have a bath and supper at our house. And I am eternally grateful for the few hours of peace and quiet I get while my kids are at her house.
And then I’ve got Tammy. An angel disguised as a mom. Ben and Emma LOVE Tammy. Like love love her. Emma asked me the one day that, if I die, could Tammy be her mom, and I said sure. A few minutes later Emma asked when do I think I’d be dying…I know, without a doubt, I can give Tammy a shout and if she’s around she’ll take my kids for an afternoon, and I hope she knows I’ll do the same. We meet at the park for little impromptu picnics and often pop out with all our brood.
But what got me seeing red, during the school holidays, was the amount of money I spent on other people’s kids. And not my little tribe’s children. More like random friends that we see occasionally. On days play dates had been arranged, I would mention to the mom that we’d be popping out for a milkshake or an ice cream, making sure they’re happy with me transporting their children around, as well as knowing where we are. If a big outing was planned (like movies or roller skating) I’d mention it to the mom too. Again so they were in the loop and for them to (hopefully) ask whether they should send any money along. But none did. Not one. And I don’t mean the ones where we were getting an ice cream. I can spare R10 or R20. But roller skating, that’s a little different (for me, anyway, at the moment). It’s R100 per kid, excluding water or a snack or popping into Mike’s Kitchen next door, and after three or four visits, at R300 – R400 a time, I’ve reached my limit (money and generosity wise).
I get that if I’m choosing to take your child out then I should pay, but when you’ve asked if your child can come over for the day because you’re at work, and I mention I have plans to take my children somewhere, surely you offer to leave R50 or R100 for any costs. Surely?
I’m not sure what the accepted etiquette is around this. Am I unreasonable and a cheap skate? Or is this how things work. And don’t even get me started with RSVP’s to parties…