There’s a party in my house and I’m not invited

2011-05-06 00:00

IT always starts quite innocently with a question from one of my two children, depending on who is the bravest, or who drew the short stick. Note to self: ask how they decide who gets to ask the big question the next time we are waiting in the drive-through queue at KFC.

“Moooom, what are we doing this holiday?” My usual reply is either “I’m not on leave”, or “I’ve taken a few days to be with you guys, why do you ask?”

If it’s my 12-year-old son asking, he gets straight to the point. “Mom, please can I have a friend stay over?” Because I’ve covered this ground before and learnt from previous mistakes, I ask: “Just one friend?”.

He gives me the sweet smile he saves for occasions just like these. The same smile that got me to agree to invite 30 school friends to an after-school party when he was 10 and moving schools. Everyone brought along a brother, sister, cousin and if there was space in the car, a neighbour too, because as one parent put it: “Billy couldn’t bear to be at home without his brother ... you don’t mind do you?” Instead of catering for 30 children, there were at least 70 of them running around the pool. Not one parent stuck around so it was a free for all. I took photos and when I look again at the pictures I start counting heads because no one seems to believe me, they say I’m exaggerating. But photos don’t lie, except when I look like I’ve put on 10 kgs. I wonder where those pics are? The children probably hid them so I have no evidence. Bryan* shrugged that fiasco off with: “Mom, people still talk about what a great party it was.”

Back to the angelic smile and cup of tea that suddenly materialises without me having to beg, hyperventilate or bribe for.

Negotiations commence immediately. How many friends? How many nights? It was decided that three friends would stay for three nights. I should have kept my eye on his face as he walked away because he was probably smiling and saying to himself, “three nights is a good start”.

So here I sit on Sunday evening. They arrived on Wednesday and this is day five of the home invasion. My secret stash of junk food has been found and devoured. Who knew children like dark chocolate and nougat? The 24-hour catering service I’ve had to provide has made a huge dent in my groceries. The lounge that was going to be their headquarters/entertainment area for only three nights looks like they have literally dug in. No outsider has ventured in, the combined smell of toe jam and cheese curls is unbearable.

Food and fizi bubilie exit the kitchen in the normal fashion but plates and cups can’t seem to find their way back to the kitchen. I’ll have to draw the children a map.

I received an SMS from one mom to say she will collect her darling at 2.30 pm. It’s now 6 pm and still no sign of her. She isn’t the only problem parent. The other child is keeping a very low profile, giving me surreptitious glances and I’m waiting for Bryan to try to get another night’s extension.

I’m convinced that the visiting children are in constant communication with their moms, with messages that read: “she seems okay, maybe I can get to stay another night”. Reply from mom: “Don’t push too much, if she doesn’t agree to another extension we can go to plan B, a sudden death in the family who live in Gauteng ... she can’t send you home to an empty house.”

I finally put my plan B into action. I call the children to the bedroom, instruct them to pack and tell them that I’ll be taking them home because I just know their parents must be missing them. Within 10 minutes, moms are hooting at the gate to collect their little darlings.

Whew, now I can enjoy the last day of my holiday in peace.

* Name changed.

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