The Flaky Parent

I am the flaky parent. Flaky, as in, I probably won’t turn up to that weekend activity, and I’m not going to offer to have your kids for the day. Flaky, as in, sometimes I don’t reply to your text for a few hours.

I admit that I am the flaky parent. I’ll apologise too, but only for some of it. Let me explain:

Given the circumstances me and my daughter have gone through in the last few years, social get togethers have often been bottom of the list. Firstly because we were both far too traumatised. Then after that we were isolated; we didn’t know anybody when we moved. Then my daughter made friends at school, and I made acquaintances, but we didn’t have the time to go out after school because of the littany of court dates and check ups. Plus there’s always the worry that my daughter might start talking about her ordeal – AKA, playdate over – see “Birthday Party”. 

Since all of the big stuff has died down we have been much more social. We have attended numerous playdates and birthday parties and tea at friend’s houses. We have met people at the park. We have joined clubs. I should clarify that my daughter has done all of these things, I have simply facilitated her in doing so, but I feel like I deserve some acknowledgement for that. I have social anxiety, and I’m an introvert at best. I don’t enjoy being around many people. I have a small list.

In the past few weeks I have cancelled, avoided, declined and otherwise completely voided any attempt at social gatherings. Why? Because it has just been Christmas. Also I’ve had the flu, but that’s a bonus reason. Before Christmas we are running around like headless chickens. During Christmas and for a few days (at least) afterwards, I have family staying/visiting, and when they leave I have a house to set right and a breeding pile of washing to see to. In the politest possible manner, any time off I have left between this and the start of term, I want to use to recover from all of the rush and interaction of Christmas. I do not want to walk in the freezing cold for half an hour at nine in the morning for a playdate at your house which I know will just involve the kids staring at the tv, you trying to start a conversation, me failing socially and the kids ending it all in tears.

For 2017 I’m setting ground rules about social obligations, of which I seem to have hundreds, particularly with parents of kids at school. My draft so far looks like this:

  • If you ask me less than 3 days before your playdate/party/get together, the answer is no.
  • If I need to send you a piddly paper RSVP instead of a quick text that can’t get lost in my daughter’s book bag, the answer is no.
  • If you change the arrangements the day before, the answer is no.
  • If I hate your kid the answer is no (stop judging me, we all know that one kid).
  • If you’re explaining how two long bus rides can get us to your party when you drive and only live down the road, then no.
  • If it’s before 10am on weekend, no.
  • If you can’t even give me the actual details (where, when, what time, how much money etc) then no, don’t even.

Am I being unreasonable? I don’t think so, because if I stick to this list I believe I can be the slightly less flaky parent. The one that will do her best to come to your thing despite the fact she begrudges aeeing people, and with her limited patience, budget and resources, providing that you make realistic arrangements.

What about you? Are you an introverted parent? Do you enjoy managing your child’s calendar or are you drowning in obligation? Let us know! 

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