We love visitors in our house. We usually have a houseful and love nothing more than a full kitchen table, mugs of tea everywhere and a huge pasta bake in the oven (that’s all you’ll be offered to eat by the way). If you do visit our house, there are a number of warnings for you. If you choose to ignore them, do so at your own risk.
I can’t promise what you’re going to walk into when you enter our house, but it will be chaos. If we’ve forced the children to keep their toys away, they will be tearing each other’s hair out for entertainment. There will have been a telling off, someone is always crying or shouting, laughing or dancing. There may be an argument in full swing, I may or may not be involved in that. We are a loud family, I know a lot of people say that, but oh, my, word, are we loud.
A note from the children directly:
‘We like food. Any type of food. Except raisins in cakes; they are rubbish. You take a big bite thinking they are chocolate and then UGH! GAH! [Falls to floor in mock poisoning scenario for about 3 minutes, followed by a ‘pile on’ and uncontrollable laughter from all three children]. Also, no lemon cake please, because; disgusting. Oh and dark chocolate is pretty horrid, you think it’s going to be nice, but actually it’s BLEURGH.’
You will be asked a variety, or all of the following questions:
‘Are you staying for a sleepover?’
‘Are those for me?’
‘Why are you late?’
‘Did you bring food?’
‘Will you read me a story?’
‘How long are you staying for?’
‘Will you put the TV on?
‘Did you know I’ve [insert boring story]?’
Son and Daughter 1 will bombard you from the moment you step over the door. Daughter 2 will parrot a few of her siblings’ chosen questions in garbled toddler speak. All this will be from the comfort of your own lap. They will be climbing on you. There is no concept of personal space in this house. If you came in needing the toilet, these will shouted at you through the toilet door.
Prepare your senses
You could be hit by the delightful waft of a freshly baked loaf. I’m kidding, if in the rare event that I have been organised enough to set the bread machine going, it will be mingled with the smell of the ‘excitement poo’ one of them will do in their nappy/toilet 5 minutes before you arrive. Please take it as a very bizarre, undoubtedly disgusting, but well-meant compliment. Daughter 2 is still at just 2 pretty slobbery, her kisses are, well, think Beethoven the dog. As a pre-visit warning it should be pointed out that also, various members of the family may want to spit a variety of types of food in your hand on a whim, or give you a cuddle under the guise of genuine affection, whilst surreptitiously wiping their hands on your back.
I’m not precious about timing, and this is incredibly hypocritical of me, as I am always late. On leaving the house, I usually say to the children ‘I used to be on time…before.’ It’s true, I did. However, when you visit, dear friends, please remember: the children know what time you’re expected, the children have been up since 6am, they have asked what time you are coming on average every two minutes since then. They will have been sat in the front window leaving handprints and face marks for up to an hour before the expected arrival, startling passers-by with their squished up faces on the living room window or on one particularly embarrassing occasion shouting well-wishes through the letter box at a group of terrified looking pensioners. They will no doubt greet you with ‘You’re late’ if you’re even a minute past your expected arrival time. Sorry about that.
This will go in one of two directions:
Scenario 1 (Admittedly those who visit more frequently will fall victim to this): You have endured the visit, you’re at the point where you can leave without it appearing rude. The children have climbed on your lap, asked the most intimate details of your life ‘But WHY aren’t you married yet? You’re older than mummy!’ You’ve endured a meal time, you smiled politely while one of the children smeared pasta sauce on your white top (albeit whilst they said they ‘wuvved you’). You issue a cheery goodbye to the Three Amigos (no doubt by now, sat watching television). Not one of them looks up. Even the littlest one, who you were sure was your BFF 30 minutes ago, waves absently without looking up from Peppa Pig. Only when your hostess (their mother) comes in and threatens to turn it off, do they crane their faces towards you (not taking their eyes off the animated pig) and say ‘Byyyyyyyye’. Crestfallen.
Scenario 2: Your visit has gone so well, you have all played together, you have laughed, chased, played hide and seek. There has been playing in the garden, bouncing on the trampoline, they loved the treats that you bought. That said, the time has come to make a move and you have genuinely enjoyed your visit. Your hostess (their mother) mentions that you are leaving. Suddenly there is a shift in their demeanour; it may begin with a cross ‘arm-folding’ followed by a denial that you are even allowed to leave (you question; am I allowed to leave?) By the time you scrape your belongings together and remove your jewellery off the middle child’s arms and struggle to the front door; you have 2 toddlers, one on each leg wailing. The boy is blocking the front door and roaring whilst the hostess (their mother) scolds, soothes, reasons and then physically restrains the children long enough for you to run to your car.
So… want to come over for dinner?