|The Tank (centre) entertains her mini-hosts|
1. It was pouring with rain
2. Magpie was screaming her head off (I thought she was cold, but later discovered she hates the top button of her coat being done up)
2. I couldn't remember my host's house number
3. My host wasn't answering her mobile
4. I didn't have her landline number
So a miracle, really. Oh and both the host and I have twins. I have come to the conclusion that there is a recipe for a stress-free playdate, which has nothing to do with the quantity of toddlers present.
You and your host share the same attitude towards order (or lack thereof)
You and your host share the same standards of hygeine (or lack thereof)
You and your host share the same attidude towards water beaker/spoon-sharing (see above)
You and your host share the same sense of humour when your child bashes one of hers, or vice versa
Let me explain.
When you have a puppy, for those of you who haven't brought up both man and beast, you give them a rubber Kong (like a rugby ball with a small hole at either end), stuff an unretrievable treat inside and get hours of peace while they lick the thing to death.
At the playdate, My host and I worked out the toddler equivalent (see fig 1. below). And it's important that I say 'we' worked it out. As sometimes a host and guest might not be in sync on the game itself or the manner in which it's played (by that I mean the social acceptability of a game which involves scattering snacks on the kitchen floor). The game is very simple. All you need is:
A railed room divider (ideal) or a stairgate will do.
High-saliency snacks - saliency is used in dog training, in simple terms it means a delicious treat for which the subject salivates and thereby works hard to retrieve.
Toddlers. The more, the merrier, creating a competitive edge.
|Fig 1.Hours (ok, minutes) of toddler fun. Magpie and The Tank are bookended by their little hosts; the snacks are just discernable, looking like faded yellow maggots|
And that's it. Now the rules of the game are simply put toddlers on one side of the room divider, and put the snacks on the other side, scattered liberally, but just out of reach.
|Fig 2. the snacks are slighter more discernable at the bottom of the photo|
Having bonded over the snack retreival game, the two sets of twins behaved impeccably (except for the Tank bashing one of her mini-hosts with a vintage handbag) and the rest of the playdate was a breeze. Even lunch itself around the table was civilised, when the most adventurous thing the children did was to check out how water tasted in somebody else's beaker......