I suck at playdates. Oh, but I keep hosting them for some reason.
First of all, I hate the word “playdate.” I swore for years it would never be part of my vocabulary, but like varicose veins and saggy boobs, looks like it’s here to stay. Thanks kids! Whatever happened to just “playing” or “coming over”?? When did a gathering with two or more kids become a “playdate”? I’m guessing around the same time “overscheduled” and “helicopter mom” entered the parenting vernacular.
Let me clarify: the playdates I disdain are those mommy-and-me ones. Now that my older daughter is in kindergarten, I’ve hosted a few drop-off playdates and I’m totally cool with those. Kindergarteners are cool and I’m not forced to chitchat with a mom I barely know. It’s the playdates for the five and under set that I’d like to abolish.
Why do I host playdates if I hate them so? Because I don’t want my kids to be labeled as those weirdos who never invite anyone over. Sometimes, I host a playdate out of obligation to other families. After my kids trash their house and eat all their snacks on more than one occasion, I feel obligated to reciprocate. And the final reason I host the occasional playdate? Because my daughters beg me to and I eventually crack.
My house is pretty lame. I have two girls and at the risk of gender stereotyping, we only have girl toys. Even the girl toys are sort of eh. A few princess dresses stuffed in a box, one naked Barbie, a beading set with 4 beads left, a pretend kitchen but no pretend kitchen accessories. This is all fine and dandy when my kids are on their own. They have wonderful imaginations and are most interested in art supplies and books. In fact, my husband and I agreed early this year that we wouldn’t buy any more toys until Christmas because they often go unused. This is fine until we arrange a date to play with outsiders, especially boys. On more than one occasion, a new friend has innocently asked “where are all your toys?” while standing in our PLAYroom. My kids look at me with dismay and I want to hug them tight for just a second. Then I remember how much fun they have without toys and I try to coax the daters into a fun game of pirates, fairies or dinosaurs and sometimes the idea takes off, and I must say, those are the most successful playdates.
We don’t have a swingset.
I don’t allow TV or iPads during playdates.
We don’t have a trampoline.
We have one bigwheel and a few sad, ride-on vehicles in the garage, none of which are battery operated.
Wait, I take that back. We have one toy that draws rave reviews – a beat-up old Sit ‘n Spin I picked up at a tag sale. Best five bucks I ever spent.
And then there are the snacks. Why can’t I get this right? I’m scared shitless about other kids’ allergies so I never know what to serve. The bowl full of grapes I painstakingly cut in half at the last playdate went untouched. Apparently, Newman’s Own lemonade is “yucky.” Note to self – stock up on processed, cheezy, gummy crap before next playdate.
And a note about meltdowns. Are they inevitable? It seems that every playdate I attend with kids under five ends with at least one mom apologizing for the convulsing child who a) refuses to share or b) didn’t nap or c) must be “coming down with something.” Good times.
Someday, we’ll get a Dora powered Jeep and a Barbie Dream Castle. I’ll stock my kitchen with Twinkies and Yoo Hoo and we will ROCK the playdate scene. Until then, we are off the market.