Saturday, March 9, 2013

My Issue with Play Dates

I hate the term play date.

Hate it.


With the fire and passion of a thousand suns.

My issue with this terms stems partially from my Free Range sensibilities. Are our kids are so over-scheduled these days that we need to set up specific dates for them to play, in the same way I have to schedule meetings and time to workout?
I know my antipathy over this term also has a bit of crotchety old woman to it, as well. Dagnabbit, when I was a girl we played with the kids in our neighborhood, whether we liked them or not. If there wasn't anyone our age, we made do by playing with sticks! Our school friends stayed at school because Mom and Dad had better things to do than ferry our asses around to play.

However, I believe my biggest issue with play dates now that I am a mom, is my own shyness when it comes to approaching people. Just to give you an idea of that shyness, I believe that one of the world's greatest innovations, far more wondrous than nanotechnology, vaccines, or even central air conditioning, is the ability to order a pizza online without having to talk to anyone other than the delivery guy. (And if you have exact change with tip, you can even get away with only grunting at him).

Since play dates are necessarily set up between kids who like each other rather than between parents who are friends, it's all a little much for those who can find themselves intimidated by the social interaction required for ordering carryout.

So, now that LO has reached an age wherein he is making friends independent of J and I, I am in the position of wanting to schedule the dreaded play dates so that I can encourage him to build strong relationships and learn socialization, sharing, and how to pretend that the carpet is made of lava.

I've been making a hash of it.

LO has a new best friend. He met his friend about a month ago, when said friend started at LO's school. LO and Friend were friends from day one, as if they recognized in each other kindred spirits. At school, they play kamikaze follow-the-leader, wherein one will run while shouting joyously until he falls over into heap and the other will repeat the exact running path, unintelligible shout, and particular heap-shape, until it is time to get up and start running and shouting again. They meticulously build towers together which they then take great glee in destroying together. They share a deep and abiding interest in anything on wheels.

I would love to foster this adorable friendship, but I'm intimidated both by the fact that I do not know Friend's parents, and by the fact that Friend's family is bilingual. These are ridiculous reasons to be intimidated, I know, but have you met me?

J, who similarly avoids having to talk to pizza parlors when not necessary, has suggested we invite Friend and parents over to the park across the street from us when the weather gets a little warmer. That way, it won't be nearly as big a commitment as having them over to our house, but will still give the young men a great chance to enjoy themselves, free of the social awkwardness that plagues the adult set.

I'll even call it a play date when I set it up with Friend's mom.

And, I'll keep my crotchets and grunting to a minimum. We'd like to make a good impression, here.


  1. I think it might make pretty good impression by starting with telling them that you hate the term playdate. Then you never have to say it again.
    I have the same social inhibitions, and I have had luck starting conversations by saying so and using it as an excuse to awkwardly start a conversation that is there-after allowed to be slightly awkward.

  2. I always try to get cell phone numbers for the parent so I can text them to set up these things. And I always do it at the last minute so I don't get stressed about that-playdate-we-have-scheduled-next-week because ugh having to cancel them is just as bad as having to plan them. I do the, hey, we have the afternoon free, can so and so come over for awhile...
    Thank god my kid can play alone really well. I'm training him anti-social like me. ;)