Monday, 4 July 2011

The social life of a 5 year old

I'm ruining my 5 year old's social life.

I've pushed him almost to the edge of Reception Class social acceptability. Why? Because I'm chronically lazy when it comes to play-dates. I just can't be bothered.

It's the same with birthday parties. If I like the parents or the child, we go (by like, I mean: made an effort to get to know and found they're quite nice and normal really). If I don't like them (by don't like, I mean: haven't bothered/got round to getting to know them so therefore have no idea whether they are truly nice or not), we apologise and say we can't make it.

Does that make me a terrible mum?

My 5 year old is an incredibly sociable 5 year old. By that, I don't mean he has wonderfully developed social skills beyond his years. He's just not shy. He'll happily chat to any child in the park/shops/swimming pool and actively seeks out other children whenever he can. New faces rarely faze him and as long as adults talk to him sensibly and about things that he finds engaging, he'll chat away happily to them too.

So when it comes to setting up play-dates. I've never really seen the point. He's more than capable of making his own friends, so why would he need me to sort out play-dates? And anyway, he already has lots of friends that we see regularly. There's his NCT friends that he's 'known' since birth and his nursery friends that he's known since he was 1. Only 2 of his nursery friends ended up at the same school as him, so he has lots of friends outwith his class and outwith school.

I always felt this was a good thing, as school can get a bit claustrophobic for some kids. Once you're labelled as bright/sporty/bookish/math whizz/class clown etc. it's hard to get away from those labels in school. But at least you can get away from them out of school with friends that don't know you in school.

But then last Friday, the worst thing happened (well, if you're 5 anyway). 2 of his best buddies merrily announced that they were off to a 3rd boy's house for tea after school. My poor 5 year old has never been invited on so much as a play-date, never mind home for tea. Our play-dates and tea invites have always been with pre-existing friends and are usually more of an excuse for the mums to get together.

I felt terrible for him. I felt like I'd failed him in some way. I've made little effort with the majority of the school mums for various reasons. Having a 6 week old baby when school started last September meant I didn't really have the energy for forging new friendships. I did sign up for some of the nights out, but the boob-monster was having none of it and getting out the house of an evening was impossible. Then when the boob-monster finally decided to stop cluster-feeding all evening, the night-out invites had dried up and I was too exhausted from sleep-deprivation anyway. Then as time went on, I was so busy making the most of my maternity leave and enjoying time with pre-existing friends that I didn't bother making a huge effort with the school mums. I already had lots of friends, why would I want more?

But maybe that's where I went wrong. Or did I? I still can't decide. I don't want to choose my 5 year old's friends for him. I want him to find his own friends. I suppose having a nanny share with his best-buddy-in-the-whole-world-ever doesn't help the cause much. Every afternoon they already have a built-in play-date with each other.

But to atone, I decided it was time to take the plunge. We've invited a friend to come over and play next Friday after school. I feel slightly nauseous about the whole thing. I'm not a big fan of the mum. She's a bit of a busy body, so I tend to give her a wide berth at the school gates. But then, I'm not asking her to come and play. I'm asking her son. So I need to just get over it and get on with it.

Sigh. Why does nobody warn you about the politics of the school gate when you enroll your child in school? It's just so bloody tedious!

How will I ever refine my bedside manner if mummy doesn't sort out my social life for me?

1 comment:

  1. The politics of playdates ... I hear you loud and clear. I've found it a nightmare as well. I did try and be really social with my eldest but the effort v. reward just didn't balance out. Luckily eldest is so busy with clubs after school that we can only do play dates in holidays ... when I remember!

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