When Friends Fall Out

We all have an inner circle of friends. People we see and speak to regularly. People we trust and make time for.  Sometimes however, these friendships go through rocky patches. When friends fall out it can just be a temporary phase, at other times it is well and truly stuffed/over/hashtag please don’t call me again EVER. The ultimate kiss of death is to be unfriended on Facebook… we all know there is no coming back from that.

A lot of the time tensions can simmer beneath the surface for a while and then something random will trigger the friendship meltdown. Recently I was out with a group of friends and witnessed the unravelling of various relationships. There was no public showdown but a very visible display of tension, frustration and anger. This was a case of extreme friendship politics. It was like watching tennis at the dinner table..my eyes darting from one person to the next, as they exchanged snappy comments and seething looks at one another. I’d never seen anything quite like it before and sat there with bated breath not knowing what would come next. Thankfully we are a civilised bunch and there was no Jeremy Kyle type confrontation as that would have been beyond the realms of awkward.

When friendships break down there are almost always repercussions for other people. Common friends, partners, siblings. How are they meant to react? Nobody wants to get involved in another person’s friendship war but sometimes they get dragged in kicking and screaming. The parties concerned may have expectations of loyalty and that’s when things get complicated. As a rule of thumb, I say run for the hills when your friends fall out and only emerge once things have settled down. Of course you could try and mediate but we all know how that story ends..with you in the dog house with BOTH parties. Run fast, I say.

Some friendships are uncomplicated and stand the test of time..
Some friendships are uncomplicated and stand the test of time..

What I have found, as I have got older, is that I have less time and tolerance for nonsense from people. Life is complicated enough without having to deal with the uninvited emotional baggage of others. Most people want simple, uncomplicated friendships that uplift and support them. Not ones that drain, confuse and frustrate them. This doesn’t have to lead to a falling out in the friendship but perhaps just a redefining of parameters, staying close to those that enrich your life.

Friendships are to be cherished and celebrated but there are times when they get derailed. It happens to all of us at some point (although the Old Git tells me men don’t experience this level of drama and conflict in their friendships –  discuss). Irrespective of whether the friendship recovers,  there is no point in anguishing over it for too long. After all, who wants to be that person who obsesses over another person’s actions, stalks them on Facebook and talks about nothing else? Not me. It may be that a bit of self-reflection and  compassion can help us process our own feelings about the friendship (or lack thereof) and move on from it either way.  You know……. forgiveness and all that jazz? Apparently it’s good for the soul.

A Visit to Grandma and Grandpa

There used to be a time when visiting my parents’ house was a warm, welcoming, familiar sanctuary where I could unwind, kick back and be fed copious amounts of food. It was a retreat from life’s drama where the Old Git and I would be treated like royalty. The oldies LOVED hosting us but since having the kids this scenario has changed somewhat. Now, a visit to grandma and grandpa is nothing short of stressful, with frequent bouts of drama and hysteria. Oh, how times have changed.

Firstly let’s talk about rules. Basically, there are none. The kids act like they own the joint and ignore everything you tell them, safe in the knowledge that grandma and grandpa will undermine you and accommodate their every whim. Anything goes here… if they want to watch TV all day and night, they can. If they want a meal consisting of cheerios and chocolate buttons, no problem! If mummy says “no more!” you may as well be talking to a brick wall.

Then there’s the hysteria (sugar-induced, no doubt). No more peace, no more retreat. When all the grandkids get together (there are six in total from my siblings and I), the noise levels are brutal. There’s screaming, screeching, fighting and laughter all mixed in with a bit of wailing and sobbing (from Ludoo). And let’s not forget the mess. Crumbs everywhere. Food splattered across the floor and table. Ice lollies dripping over the carpet. Toys and puzzles scattered across the house. Shudder. My poor parents just watch on in a dual state of horror and devotion, as my siblings and I tidy up behind our offspring and/or yell at them to tidy up themselves.

And then there is the drama and misfortune that unfolds all too frequently at my parents’ house. Like when Ludoo locked himself in one of the bedrooms. For a good twenty minutes there was chaos in the Khan residence. Grandma was running around frantically looking for a master key whilst shouting instructions, a panic-stricken grandpa was running up and down the street in his slippers looking for someone to help, the other kids were downstairs fighting and screaming over the iPad (completely oblivious to what was going on) and I was irate at being placed in this predicament, whilst comforting a stressed out Ludoo through the keyhole. It was complete and utter mayhem. Needless to say, Ludoo made it out of the room but I needed a strong cup of tea to recover.

Relaxing in my own home these days..
What better way to unwind?

Pre-kids my parental home was a peaceful haven where I could escape and recharge. Now, it’s party central where the kids run riot. They’ve well and truly pissed all over that parade and claimed it as their own. Whilst Khan Headquarters will always occupy a special place in my heart, I have to say, I’m rather fond of my own home now and its creature comforts. I believe a person’s sense of calm, wellbeing and security is intrinsically linked to the home they create. Occasionally though, I will secretly visit my parents’ home, without the children, and experience a little bit of  bliss again.


My Fourth Birthday

Hi, I’m Ludoo and it’s my fourth birthday today. My day began with my mum doing the Running Man into my bedroom whilst belting out “Happy Birthday” to me. She looked like a complete nutter but I had to play along as she seemed so deranged with excitement. We then went downstairs and my dad stuck the video camera in my face as soon as I entered the living room. I was about to teach him a lesson and start howling, full pelt, but then I saw the mountain of presents on the table and refrained. Some of the gifts were pretty naff, like the clothes and the Disney bed linen set, but the Scalextric car racing set saved the day. Crisis averted.

Normally my big sister ignores me and slams her bedroom door in my face, but today she was actually interested in hanging out with me. We played with my birthday gifts, ate chocolate eggs and laughed together. It was pretty cool. She then snatched one of my cars which sent me into a baby rage, resulting in me pinching her and shoving her across the room. She started screaming hysterically, I started wailing inconsolably and we both got sent to time out.

The coolest Spiderman around..

Next it was my party. People started arriving at 3pm and I was dressed as Spiderman. I was, by far, the best dressed person there. I don’t have many friends yet so it was mainly my cousins and sister’s friends in attendance. There were some people there who I didn’t even know, but that didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I was the star attraction and I was getting lots of presents. No gift, no entry.

We ate a lot of cake. My mum thinks I didn’t notice but she actually did not get me a Spiderman cake, as requested. She got me a Star Wars cake with a lame Spiderman figurine and candle stuck on top. Poor show, I say. I still ate it and then proceeded to scoff the chocolate brownies, eclairs and lemon tart that were all on offer.

A confused cake #lame

I found most of the kids at my party annoying. They were all playing with my stuff and walking around my playroom like they owned it. One kid even thought it was acceptable to touch my Winnie the Pooh teddy. What the hell? Don’t these kids know kiddie protocol? You DON’T touch anyone’s favourite toy….ever. I taught him a lesson and screamed in his face with my full fury. He went running to his mum, the cry baby.

The party finished by about 6.30pm and I was pleased to see the back of my guests. Order was restored in the house and there was peace and quiet. At bedtime my mum got a bit overemotional [eye roll] and started reminiscing about the day I was born ..YAWN. She told me I’d always be her baby in her stupid baby voice and practically suffocated me with her needy kisses and cuddles.  I humoured her for a bit but then got vexed and told her to back off by head butting her.

It was a long day and I’m now ready for bed. I’m not quite sure how I feel about being four. I’m on the cusp of starting school but still act and look like a baby. I have complex emotions and have trouble processing them, often resulting in multiple meltdowns. Maybe this is my time to man up and start acting like a boy and not a baby. I feel a change coming on.

Love Ludoo, age 4.

Dads on the School Run

The playground has long been a woman’s world but times are changing and there are now an increasing number of dads on the school run. They are no longer viewed as a peculiarity and offer a more varied cast to the weekly drama that unfolds at the school gates. It’s only right that men too should participate in the stress and drudgery of this ritual and experience the full glory of racing down the road in the pissing rain with a screaming/whinging child.

The Old Git’s turn to do the school run today. Hoorah!

Although they are small in number, there are still certain observations that can be made about dads on the school run. They largely fall into one of the following categories:

1)The dump and run dad. He skids into the playground, deposits his child at the specified place and time, avoids eye contact or conversation with other parents and races off to work. Should you ask him anything about school, e.g “Do the kids need their PE kit today?”  he will just look at you completely bewildered. He knows nothing beyond what time to drop off and pick up. In fact, he doesn’t even know who you are or who your child is, despite your kids being in the same class. Deal with it.

2)The Flash Git of a dad who pulls up in his sports car every day. He normally wears sunglasses, a leather jacket and has the roof down, even if it’s raining. The mums all roll their eyes at him dismissively whilst the dads look on with contempt and/or envy. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing his car get slapped with a parking ticket.

3)The tracksuit dad who is bleary eyed, unshaven and wears stained clothes. He basically doesn’t give a monkey’s, waltzes into school like he’s just woken up after a big night out and has forgotten to wash. He tends to sit on his own, makes occasional inane observations about the weather and then astounds you with some amazingly insightful analysis of Southeast Asian politics or the pound to euro exchange rate. He’s a dark horse.

4)The workaholic dad who is rushing around with his phone glued to his face engrossed in some very important sounding, money making conversation. You wonder if he is the CEO of a big multinational company and whether there has been some family emergency requiring him to attend school pickup/drop off as ordinarily you barely catch a glimpse of him. He is detached and far too busy to converse with you. You wonder how rich he is.

5)The too cool for school dad. He is very trendy and probably works in the creative industry. He knows all the mums’ names, rocks up confidently and is always surrounded by a group of beaming, giggling women. He is the male centrepiece. The object of every mum’s affection. The dad that everyone fancies.

Of course I’m just scratching the surface of the school dad phenomenon. They vary considerably in style and character, but what they appear to have in common is a certain level of discomfort at being thrust into the socially complex world of the school playground.  Apart from the ‘too cool for school dad,’ most look a bit awkward and fumble through the drop off/pickup ritual with stoicism.

Father and child moment on the school run

But let’s look on the bright side of dads doing the school run. It gives them an insight into the diabolical drama that mums endure every morning, creates an opportunity for them to bond with their children (albeit an intensely stressful one), develops their parenting and crisis management skills when they have to deal with meltdowns at the school gates, and finally but most importantly of all, sets an example to their kids that child rearing is a shared responsibility. Bring on the dads, I say.