Two tiny words with one million connotations. This phrase could bring on a case of the sweats for even the chattiest of people – and I include myself in this.
Specifically, I am talking about small talk at venues like soft play. Soft play is torture enough but it usually also comes with a side order of awkward conversation with people you will never see again. This can be exchanging words with fellow parents about their offspring who may or may not have just hit your child. Or, it can also mean chat with small people (yes, Carter, I do know it’s your birthday next week, thank you for telling me, a random stranger, yet again).
Other parents – you know what I am talking about yes? I do hope that this isn’t just me who dreads this not-so-social occasion because I didn’t see it coming. I love a good chin wag and I wanted to make mum friends – I even forked out a few hundred quid to buy (I mean meet) new parents through NCT classes just so I had these people to swap stories with. But, it’s time to be honest. It’s all rather mind-numbingly boring isn’t it?
The humdrum chat about children’s age and how they are ‘doing really well’.
The constant scrutiny on whether the little ones are hitting their milestones.
The checklist of how feeding and sleeping routines are, or are not, going.
Just stop it. Please.
I am lucky enough to have parent pals in my life who were my friends before we reproduced. I will swap stories with them about bowel movements for as long as the coffee (ahem, pink wine) keeps on coming. I also know some lovely people who have become parents since my TJ arrived, and I will offer them help, advice and solidarity whenever it is required.
But, it turns out to be an occupational hazard in the role of parent that not all of us are good at striking up conversation with strangers or faking interest in the lives of people whose name you can’t remember. This often finds me on the outskirts of the play areas rather than hanging with the cool mum clan. This may well continue to the school gates and beyond as TJ grows up and I am honestly fine with that.
In other news, TJ is slowly but surely expanding his own vocabulary. His words currently include daddy (obvs), teeth, ‘raar’ – when asked what sound any animal makes, and bubble, which is what he calls me more often than not. Now, that’s the kind of small talk I can stomach.