I learned my lesson that day.
Never invite a clients’ child over for a play date.
My client, let’s call her “Prudence” lived in our neighborhood in Jacksonville. When she discovered that we both had 4-year old daughters, she suggested we get them together to play. Something told me that this was not a good idea, but I agreed.
There was one word to describe Angelica. Precocious. Angelica was a miniature adult.
My older daughter, Kimmy occasionally babysat for Angelica, and when she did, she'd come home smarter. "Hey, Mom. I learned a new word from Angelica tonight: iconoclast. It means a non-conformist".
Angelica not only acted much older than her age, she looked older, too. In fact, she reminded me of Moe, from the 3 stooges. She had one of those bowl cuts that look cute on some kids.
Not on Angelica.
But Angelica's maturity and confidence helped her compensate for that Moe haircut. (She was far more mature than anyone in my family...myself included.)
But back to the play date invitation. Red flags should have been going up all around me, but I chose to ignore them. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
Bottom line? I was focusing on the wrong potential outcome. You see, Linda had flunked Sharing 101 and that’s where my focus remained.
“Linda, make sure you share all your toys with Angelica,” I instructed.
“Not my Barbies. My Barbies are special. She can play with my giraffe Beanie Baby. The one with the missing eye. That's all,” Linda responded, generously.
“No, Linda. Angelica is our guest. She is welcome to play with all of your toys.”
“Not my Marble Works. She might break it."
“Linda. If I find out that you didn’t share your Marble Works with Angelica, I will give it away. To Angelica. Come on! Be nice," I pleaded.
I was worried.
Prudence dropped Angelica off and they headed to Linda’s room to play. For the 1st hour, I popped my head in every 10 minutes or so and Linda was sharing. They were getting along famously.
Then I let my guard down.
Linda and Angelica came out of Linda’s bedroom. Angelica was wearing one of Linda’s t-shirts, turned inside out. But that’s not what got my attention.
“We were playing beauty shop. I cut Angelica’s hair,” Linda announced proudly.
That's when the doorbell rang. The next five minutes were a blur. "Go get your things, Angelica!" I instructed.
I opened the door, hesitantly.
Prudence asked, "How'd it go?"
I said, "Well, I've got good news and bad news. What do you want to hear first"
Prudence gave a nervous laugh. "What do you mean, is everything okay?"
"Well....the good news is that they had fun and Linda shared!!! And nobody got hurt" I added.
Prudence looked over my shoulder, beginning to panic, "Angelica, honey...where are you?"
I didn't have to tell her the bad news.
Angelica rounded the corner with her new haircut.
Meer words cannot describe the scream that came from Prudence's mouth when she set eyes on Angelica. But I will attempt to replicate it.
Apparently, the family photo had been scheduled for the next Monday.