If you have two children, there is no need to read today's blog, because you already know. Okay, fine, read it anyway. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Let's say you have a son named Short who is So Very Excited to have his good pal NeighborKid over. Now, NeighborKid has been over before, and somehow all the planets have aligned just right because not only is this kid a cutie-pie, but you also like the mom! Yay!
But NeighborMom is not coming over this time, it is just NeighborKid and Short. And Tall. Tall is not supposed to be here, hence, this is the very reason you and NeighborMom pre-selected this precise date and time amidst much shuffling of calendars and clicking of blackberries. Spontaneity is great as long as it's planned weeks in advance. Yes, Thursday at 1:15 til 3 PM will be absolutely perfect. Tall is supposed to be at his swimming lesson. But, due to a possible thunderstorm, the lesson is cancelled.
In some miraculous strain of temporary good luck and minimal intervention from you, Tall has decided to play quietly in his room. Whew. No drama here! Just happy kids, playing happily.
NeighborKid arrives and Short practically starts levitating. Yay, NeighborKid is finally here! NeighborKid and Short go upstairs to the toy room and start playing a game they made up involving trains and dinosaurs ("Dinotrain"?). Things are going well until........... Tall decides at that moment (when everything is blissfully peaceful) that he needs his special car book RIGHT NOW and he forgot it upstairs.
He quietly goes into the room and retrieves the book and starts to make his exit. Uh-oh, too late, NeighborKid sees him. It is as if Brad Pitt and Superman and Mickey Mouse all rolled into one just traipsed through the room. NeighborKid whispers to Short, "You did not tell me that your brother was going to be here!" It is more and admonishment than an observation.
Then, "Tall! Tall! Stay and play with me!" (not "us", just "me"). NeighborKid has morphed into Tall's groupie. Tall shrugs. "Okay." NeighborKid attaches himself to Tall like a magnet, helping him build a new Lego creation. It is as if Short no longer exists. Which he pretty much doesn't at this point. Tall is somewhat flattered, but he did not seek this attention out. He showed up with no ulterior motives, and now a friend wants to play with him. Who cares if the friend is two years younger? It is someone other than Short, who he is sick of seeing and playing with every day for four years.
Short begins to cry. Tall and NeighborKid do not notice. Short runs dramatically out of the room searching for you, his mother, to console him and remove the Vicious Offender. He sniffles through his story, "I was playing with NeighborKid and we were having fun and we made a new dinosaur thing and then," (sniffle) "and then," (trying to regain composure but failing) "and then HE," (pointing in general direction of perpetrator) "came in and wrecked everything! I hate HIM! I hate Tall!" (stomping his little feet for emphasis) "Mommy, make him leave this house FOREVER!" You look into those sad little eyes of this helpless little person, and you, too, feel helpless.
It does not help that thunder is booming in the background, mirroring Short's mood.
So, to recap: Recipe for a Hijacked Playdate: take one thunderstorm, one cancelled swim lesson, one neighbor friend, five dinosaurs and a million Lego's, and one really cool older brother. Mix together violently and stir it all up vigorously. Duration no longer than 45 minutes, an hour at the most. Tears will be produced. Possibly even a tantrum or at least a meltdown if you're lucky! When NeighborMom shows up and asks how everything went, you say, "Oh, pretty much same as always. Just fine, actually." And then you smile a genuine smile, because she is nodding.
She knows exactly what you mean: she has two sons also.
("Melancholy On View")