Sometimes I don't gel with people. Maybe it's me. I think I try too hard. I always say too much to people I have just met, especially mothers of the kids at my sons' nursery. I think I will win them over if I blurt out something about neglecting my children and rather than laugh they look terrified. It's not like I mean it, not really.
There is one mum in particular who has decided she hates me. And I can see her point.
A couple of months back I was on my way to collect George, my 3 year old, from nursery and I had his younger, shouty brother James, then not quite 2, in our buggy. The Hater was also waiting, also with a younger child and using a Phil and Teds double.
I have a lot of respect for the Phil and Teds double. No, really I do. It's clever design means you can stack your kids without them being able to touch or maim each other, it's the double decker of the buggy world. Pricey yes, but it proved itself to be a necessary investment when James was 5 days old and his older brother George kept poking him in the eye when they were sat together in my original side by side double buggy.
After I had claimed George at the nursery front door, I popped him on the buggy board we have attached to the back of our standard buggy and made the way back past the other mum's, passing the Hater. She was sort of looking through me and despite myself and everything that has gone before, I struck up conversation. Whilst walking past. The fact I was moving and I the fact that I didn't really mean to speak to her meant that I mumbled my opener. I said: "They're great buggies aren't they? The Phil and Teds? I said, they're great, the PHIL AND TEDS?"
The hater was obviously confused and having a hard time understand why I was bothering to talk and to complicate matters, talk about a Phil and Teds whilst not actually using one.
"Have you got one then?" she snapped.
"Um, no, not anymore, sold it a while ago to a friend when the boys started to get a big big for it."
As I blathered I glanced at her two little darlings and realised quickly that my little boys were younger than hers. And yet I had just said my kids were too big (read mature, read developed, read intelligent, read attractive) for the Phil and Teds. This, in parental terms, is a huge diss. A massive faux pas. And immediately she was on the defensive.
"My Adam just isn't ready for a buggy board yet, he's just not ready"
I was still walking and didn't stop. I considered going back to her and saying I didn't mean anything by it. I wasn't criticising her offspring, not deliberately anyway, and yet I had really screwed up her mood.
I scuttled off blushing furiously and running the brief exchange over in my mind. I was a bit mortified and worried about it for a few moments but by the time I'd got home and wrestled several stones from James' mouth it all seemed a bit of a flustered embarrassing memory.
I thought nothing of Adam, his younger brother and his annoyed mummy until we next crossed paths on the way to the nursery. For a while we were walking in parallel on opposite sides of the road in the same direction. It wasn't really crossing paths, more her ignoring me while I tried to casually get her attention from the other side of the road and smile to clear the air - not as easy as it sounds. She successfully ignored us and increased her speed making sure she was about 10 metres ahead when we arrived at the nursery car park. By this time George, my gorgeous 3 year old son had spotted Adam and his family too. And was keen to point them out to me.
George has talked about Adam at home a few times and clearly considers him to be a bit of a scallywag. If anyone has been told off at nursery it is usually Adam. Naughty Adam.
"Look Mummy!" shouted George. "It's Naughty Adam!"
Adam's mummy DEFINITELY heard George refer to her Adam as naughty. But if she was in any doubt, he said it again. And again. Louder.
"LOOK MUMMY! OVER THERE! IT'S NAUGHTY ADAM, MUMMY! NAUGHTY ADAM! HE IS VERY NAUGHTY!"
By this time George was also pointing and I was blushing again.
I blushed more and then I started giggling. I realised Adam's mummy will never invite me over for an awkward coffee and I will not have to invite (Naughty) Adam over for tea or whatever it is that kids have these days. So, George has done me a favour really although I am already dreading the nicknames James will be given.