Bite your lip and count to five!
Today our humble abode resembled a Second World War trench with mess and bodies lying everywhere.
The reason for this mess? A “simple” lunch cooked for friends (including Joseph’s Godfather); 6 adults in total and our 6 children. Both the couples have two girls and with Annabel, that means Joseph is outnumbered by 5 to 1 and for this reason, I always feel slightly sorry for him as the conversation is invariably about dollies or babies and he ends up getting somewhat bossed around; he doesn’t seem to mind too much though, I have to say.
One family is vegetarian so we improvised a favourite of ours and used sausages ‘sans meat’ and cooked a lovely sausage and sweet potato hot pot. It was very well received and our veggie guests had seconds (which I think is a pretty good gauge on whether or not people really do enjoy what you’ve cooked!).
After my date tart was so well received the other week, I thought I would go for a win-double and therefore presented the same again today. As the admiring gasps faded, one of our guests reminded us that she is allergic to wheat and wouldn’t be able to have any.
Cue M’s shoulder’s to drop with accompanying “oh damn, I forgot, we’re so sorry”. I also apologised whilst quietly thinking that this would actually leave us with more to scoff when they were all gone but naturally I never mentioned this out loud.
Anyway, the reason for my rambling is that halfway through the main course, aforementioned Godfather’s eldest daughter (who was a little out of sorts today), came grumbling over to the dining table and sat her teddy bear on the table. Unfortunately, said teddy bear fell backwards when left to his own devices and knocked over my freshly filled glass of red wine, sending it crashing down onto the table, breaking clean in half and showering her mother (and her mother’s dinner) with Spain’s finest rioja!!
Naturally, Godfather reacted the way Dad’s do; by shouting! Mum jumped up to tell her off too and M sauntered over to get a cloth.
Now, for one thing, over our wonderful dining table there permanently lies a “wipe-able” covering, so the spilt wine genuinely wasn’t a problem. Well, apart from the fact that it was (is) my fave tipple of course.
Mum naturally apologised and said, “I think (child) was responsible for breaking a wine glass the last time we came to eat too”.
“Three wine glasses”, I very helpfully reminded her, thinking back to the time (child) did indeed knock over my glass (again) which in turn knocked over two more glasses which in turn spilt red wine over a framed photograph of Joseph meeting Santa for the first time ever and which has since dried and threatens to tear the photograph if you attempt to take it out of the frame to investigate the liquid ‘mark’.
Back to today however, and (child) was inconsolable, with Dad AND Mum shouting at her, so I put my arm around her and explained that it had been my least favourite glass and that I had been looking for an excuse to throw it out but M wouldn’t let me – she had actually done me a favour by breaking it.
She looked straight at me and miraculously, the tears stopped flowing, the crying stopped (not to mention Mum and Dad’s shouting) and she went back to playing, completely relieved in the knowledge that she had helped out.
My point is this; why is it that when guests or their children damage/break/smash something valuable or dear to you, you can smile, close your eyes and say, “don’t worry, it’s not a problem” but when your own children break something, it's the start of World War III?
It would have been an accident too; they never meant to do it. They cry and are genuinely sorry too but for some reason it’s a bigger deal. They deserve a telling off more than when someone else’s children do something that ends in a breakage.
I was ashamed of myself at how calm I was. A glass got broken. Some wine got spilt.
I literally told myself, “I hope you remember how you reacted to this when Joseph or Annabel break something. That you remain calm and do not shout when that cup of milk hits the floor or the toast lands butter side down”.
I hope so.
Oh, that reminds me; 20 minutes before our guests arrived today, Annabel announced that she had posted M’s bankcard through the floorboards in the hall.
M has since cancelled the card.
And she never raised her voice either.
See if you can do the same next time your children ‘mess up’.