Do you need to compromise your ethos to be a good host?
This is the conundrum we’ve been chewing over today whilst weeding our way round the glasshouse garden, prompted in part by Farm Girl having either 1. a play-date or 2. a friend over to play (just quietly, the former sets our teeth on edge), This whole “school friend to visit” thing is not a common Homestead occurrence so Farm Girl was quite beside herself with excitement. A programme of activity had been drawn up (predominantly animal and skateboard/scooter based, with a little driveway chalk art and maybe a bit of inside doll/game/hanging out in the bedroom stuff if the need arose), a fitting morning tea of chocolate muffins decorated with arduously selected pansy flowers pressed into their chocolate icing (because this was a BIG deal) and smaller viola flowers frozen into ice blocks to cool the accompanying beverage, and the correct soundtrack for the morning cued up (Frozen followed by Spiceworld and the soundtrack to the 1994 NZ production of Jesus Christ Superstar – Farm Girl has spent some time trawling the Homestead CD collection).
Of course it couldn’t live up to expectations; animals can be scary, the beverage was water, and as for the rest…it was just a bit, well, boring. After a bit of desperate, whispered conversation in the garden, during which it was made clear that there was no way another beverage was being supplied and watching a DVD was not going to be sanctioned, our resident seven year old exercised the art of compromise and, long story short, Spirograph and Drag Strip saved the day.
During lunch, a debrief of sorts was conducted. Farm Girl was feeling a bit delicate about the way she chooses to pass her holidays being met with such indifference, that her beloved skateboarding was deemed boring, and her animal friends screamed at and ran away from. Once the tears abated, anger stepped in. Why had we adults not let her entertain her friend in the way her friend expected? Why didn’t we have bought biscuits and fizzy drink? Why couldn’t we be like EVERYONE ELSE?
As the three adults in residence made gallant attempts to formulate feasible, fair, factual responses , Farm Girl didn’t look up from toying with the Spirograph cog that has missed the post play-date (shudder) clean up. The Goat Herd had just taken up the baton and was launching into yet another variation of the whole living your own truth deal, when Farm Girl released a heavy sigh.
“I know! I know! I know!” her tone could only be described as resigned, “But can you tell me one thing. No two. No three. Am I good at skateboarding or just best at Union Homestead? Are there any chocolate muffins left? And…” A little grin played at the corner of her mouth as she held the pause for a couple of beats before leaning towards us as if about to impart a deep, dark secret, clicked her fingers four time (a recently acquired skill) and launched into song: “What’s the buzz, tell me what’s happening? What’s the buzz, tell me what’s happening?“
So lunch finished with a raucous Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice themed sing along with repeat performances of King Herod’s Song, and half a chocolate muffin each.
As for the conundrum, no answer was forthcoming. Perhaps being true to your beliefs renders you a bad host or maybe, as The Bean Counter suggested on hearing the day’s news, seven year olds aren’t renowned for their guest magnanimity.