My sons have been going to cricket on Friday evenings for several years now, and I still feel like the newbie.
At first I used to stay while they played, buying the younger offspring a bag of penny sweets from the tuckshop/bar and sitting on the club house step to watch the player-offspring miss catches or be swamped as they walked out to bat by the enormous pads, gloves and helmets.
It occurred to me this evening, sat freezing in the wind as the eight- year-old and 13- year-old trained, that I didn’t know a single other parent there. Not anyone’s name, or even their kids’ names.
Yes, I know a few of the coaches, but there’s a huge bunch of parents who sit together and drink and chat for over two hours every week. They all seem to know each other, probably from school or living close to the ground, whereas we live in the town centre where the neighbours are either teenagers in bedsits, students, or pensioners.
I’m not after pity, despite sounding like a complete saddo.
Mostly now I go and sit in the car and catch up on emails on my phone, or nip to the shops for whatever essential food items I forget to buy earlier.
Daughter, 4, meanwhile, manages to find new friends every where we go. She simply saunters up to the child most similar in age and asks if they want to play. Sometimes they say no. So she tries again and usually within five minutes she’s kicking a ball about or swinging upside down from railings. The boys have to do little more than produce a football to have a posse of new pals in seconds.
While they’re socialising, I’m in the car, feeling like Hilly No-Mates.
I didn’t used to be like this. When and why do we stop wanting to make friends?