Play Dates from Hell

As the mother of two, I am currently play dating with about 7 mothers.  As a somewhat unsocial type, I never thought my social calendar would be so full.  I guess it’s partially my own fault because I feel that if I schedule a play date for my daughter, I should probably schedule one for my son, which has me running all over Hell’s half acre trying to get this one here and that one there and get this one from here and that one from there.

But what I have come to expect is that for every child that wants to hang out, there is a mother who also expects, a chit chat at the very least if not a whole afternoon of gossip, sitting on the sidelines of whatever park, pool or cultural center we have picked for the afternoon, while hoping our children are polite and don’t beat each other to a bloody pulp. This was not the norm when I was a child, but, as they say, it’s a different time. This makes no sense to me but obviously translates to the fact that I will have to be social with parents well into my children’s teenage years i.e. there is no end in sight.

Now of course some of these women are truly lovely, but who wants to hear about them? Much more interesting is Sara, the recovering alcoholic and divorcee who left me and my child waiting for her and her daughter for two hours when we last play dated. She often questions her mothering skills and her house is a mess,  and I don’t mean a delightful, lived in, clothes strewn on the floor mess. I mean like dishes in the sink with remnants of food that are ready to get up and walk away mess.

Now let me introduce you to Mariam. Mariam seemed like a nice, sensible woman until I recommended her son join my son in one of his classes at School of Rock. Apparently my son and I are now responsible for the measure of her son’s success or failure in the class, to the point where she is insisting my son come every weekend to help her son practice, visits which are, as far as I can tell, completely fruitless.

And finally, there is the lovely Lucy who invited me to her Pasadena townhouse to show me  ‘her world’ which consists of her handmade clothing and self decorated bedrooms and bathrooms. She also bought clothing for my daughter in the hopes that she would be there to model the clothing. Alas, she was not as she, of course, had a play date of her own. I know Lucy probably sounds lovely and well she is, but the whole thing smacked a bit of heartbreaking desperation and favors I couldn’t possibly return.

So what is play date etiquette here? I could just never call these women again and hope my children don’t request another play date, a prospect that truthfully racks me with guilt not to mention awkward run-ins at the supermarket or schoolyard. So what do you say? It’s not you, it’s me? We just got out of something serious and it’s too soon to make a commitment? We need some space? Or maybe we should just choose the brutal truth and say: Listen lady, just because our kids are friends DOES NOT mean we have to be friends.”

And while on the subject of play date etiquette, I wonder, how long do you wait between play dates before you call again? If the three day rule applies in dating, do we then translate this to a 3 week rule? And how far in advance does the play date need to be planned? Do we just casually call the night before and say “Hey, if you guys aren’t doing anything tomorrow… because, you know, we’re not desperate or anything…”

2 thoughts on “Play Dates from Hell

  1. Haha! Exactly what we touched upon tonight. And now the picture is much clearer for me regarding your statement that it seems to be the parents need to be a priority too in the kids hanging out. You got yourself some real winners there! But given that this is nearly two years ago, it’s probably no longer a concern. It’s fun delving into your earlier stuff. I already found post that is directly about another topic we discussed. You’re a great prose writer too.

    • Yes, well, these are no longer a concern but never know what winners you will come across in the future! So nice seeing you last night. Thank you for taking the time to delve into some of the oldies!

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