Tricky playdates

Bad places to have a playdate:

a volcano (risky and uncomfortable)
a motorway (deadly and you’ll be unpopular)
a cactus farm (very uncomfortable)
a wind tunnel (Unlikely to allow meaningful conversation)
Harrods (full of expensive kid-dropped-it-you-bought-it items)

By all means, suggest more. I’d love to hear your comments.

I have another for the list. Swimming pools. I can’t STAND swimming parties or playdates because I can’t hear a bloody thing. Yes, up to a point I can lip-read, but I can’t lipread other people’s children. Their lips are small and fast, and they tend to enliven the conversation with multiple feats of recreational self-drowning (doing handstands).

Other mums aren’t much easier. They submerge hippo-like to stay as warm as possible, or they want a chat while they do breast stroke at Olympic speeds.

I’m not good at the pool in any case, really. When I was about twenty, I was subjected to a flirting campaign at the local pool by a guy who had the kind of body that would look good on Calvin Klein underwear packaging. It was enormously distracting. I cannot talk good sense when, right in front of me, I have a bare, tanned chest covered in water droplets slowly easing their way from collar bone to belly button.

Anyway, back to the point. This paragon of barely-dressed sexiness had a beard. And I mean a BEARD. It was in lovely condition. I know this because it took him a while to blowdry it**. For the sake of a mental image, picture a pirate with Brandon Routh’s body and a thing for putting Pantene on his face as well as his hair.

I couldn’t lipread him 😦 So not only did I blither, talk crap, and gibber, I couldn’t understand anything he was saying either. I could only beam inanely as he shot me dashing smile after dashing smile and said mysterious things. Sadly I never got to speak to him with my hearing aids in. Poo.

Where was I? Swimming pool playdates! Yes, sorry. Curse of the wet man’s chest. Soooo distracting.

I have four tips for surviving SPPs:

  1. Explain to your friends about vibration support. What’s that? you ask. Well, if you put your fingers to the side of someone’s voice box, you can make much more sense of their lip patterns because you can feel the vowels in the throat while watching the consonants on the lips. It’s not perfect, but it boosts your understanding by about 30%. But, like I say, warn them about it early so they don’t think you’re randomly lunging for their throat. It’s a bit of a conversation-stopper.
  2. Go mid-morning, if you can. A smaller crowd means you can stay close to the group you’re with without being jostled so much.
  3. Develop a ‘pool’ code with your little ones. My son and I tend to use sign-supported English with each other at the pool now. If nothing else, it sends out a big visual clue: “Mummy can’t hear”
  4. Tell your child that splashing = roast sprouts for breakfast and dinner for a week. Chlorinated eyes do not lipread well.

Have fun! But be prepared.


**don’t ask.


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