As I send my children off into the unknown, to other peoples houses, it can feel a bit daunting. After all the kids are about to explore a whole load of different stuff, in different rooms and follow different rules. They are likely to come back gushing about how much better it all is on the other side. I will quietly curse your name and your children’s matching curtains and bed linen which is now the only thing my children will talk about. Nevertheless I am grateful for anyone who is willing to take on 50 or 100% of my brood for any time at all.
Therefore I am writing this pact for parents to help us all rest a little bit easier in our eerily quiet houses once our fledglings have fled the nest.
- If you are kind enough to invite my children to your house I will try to make sure I have returned the favour by the end of the next half term.
- I will keep your children safe. I care far more about the safety of someone else’s children than I do my own.
- I will be kind to your kids. I will probably take their side in any argument that arises, unless they have actually drawn blood.
- I will offer your children food. Whether they choose to eat it or not is up to them. i will not be upset, get angry or try to persuade them to eat using fair means or foul. I will try to let you know how much they have eaten, just in case you will need to get a second dinner on, in order to avoid the bedtime blues.
- There will always be pudding.
- I will answer your child’s weird questions to the best of my ability. My ability does not stretch very far. I can do dinosaurs, linguistics and classical civilisations. I am not an expert in space, the physical properties of bogies and poo or definitively deciding whether unicorns or mermaids are the best. Sorry.
- I will try not to lie to your child, but sometimes it is necessary. Those fancy chocolates on the top shelf really are only for grown ups and probably would make children sick.
- If my child wants to give your child a toy I will let them. If your child tries to take a toy I will say no. If I don’t know what happened I will probably give them a different toy as a distraction. I have a stockpile of party bag toys for this very purpose. Sorry for filling your house with plastic tat.
- If your child brings a toy that plays a repetitive sound or grating sound effects it will probably be returned to you without batteries.
- I will not hold a grudge if your child does something terrible to one of mine. They are children. They are frequently idiots. Next week it will probably be the other way ‘round.
- I will usually leave the kids to their own devices; unless they are doing something particularly odd, in which case I will probably eavesdrop at the bottom of the stairs.
- I will not offer the children screens to use, but if they ask to use them I will probably say yes. My iPad only has You Tube Kids and my kids know not to use a search engine unless I am present… I hope.
- If I am feeling very adventurous I may attempt a craft activity. I may not.
- Play in our house is often very loud and full of friendly conflict. My kids are allowed to play with Nerf Guns. They are not allowed to shoot them at people. They sometimes break that last rule. I am okay with this.
- If, after your children have left, and I am standing fraught and exhausted in an ocean of toys with not an inch of carpet visible, I may curse your name. But only for a bit. And I won't really mean it.
- I will try to make sure your kids have fun, whatever happens.