Yes, I’m saying what I know you are all thinking. I cannot stand playdates. I fucking cannot stand playdates. I CAN’T STAND PLAYDATES! I swear, they are often more work than they are worth. Maybe this will change when my son gets a little older, but for now, the playdate is not as easy as going to one of his friend’s houses where I sit at the kitchen table gabbing and drinking coffee with his mom while our kids play independently, share toys, and never need their mommies. Currently, playdates go as follows: We either arrive at a friend’s house or they come to ours. For the first ten minutes, there is excitement and the desire to show off and share all the toys. After ten minutes, one kid wants to play playdough and one does not. My kid wants to play with a truck, but his friend thinks it’s too noisy. Friend’s mom and I have to stop talking and leave our delicious coffee to negotiate a peace deal between our children. What if you both do play dough for ten minutes, then you play with the truck together? You can even make play dough shapes to put inside the truck and transport to other places in the room. Thank goodness they liked that last idea and now they are playing together at the table with playdough. We go back to our coffee in the kitchen, which is now cold. Ten minutes later, "MOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMYYYYYY!"
Playdates also make me feel insecure about my parenting skills and level of likeability. A few days before a playdate, I’m always stressing, especially if it’s a mom I don’t know very well coming over to my house. What food should I serve? Should I make brownies? Does this mom make everything from scratch? My brownies come from a box. If I only serve brownies, will she think I only feed my kid junk? Okay, I will put out fruit too. And maybe I should also have Pirate's Booty, veggie sticks, fruit pouches, organic cheese sticks, Annie's cookie bunnies, and juice boxes--you know, just in case.
How will I handle my kid wanting to stop playing in the middle of the playdate to watch a TV show? Do I offer TV to both kids? Will this mom judge me for allowing TV during playtime? What happens when my child decides he doesn’t want to share a toy anymore and the kids start fighting? What if I don’t discipline him enough? What if I can’t break it up and convince my child to take turns? What if she thinks my child has no manners? What if she tells other moms the playdate at Jen’s house was a nightmare? I’m even stressed right now just writing about this!
Sometimes I can get myself excited for a playdate because it means some adult interaction, but they almost never result in the quality adult time I crave during the week. Shouldn’t playdates be about the parents too? Our kids can pretty much play anywhere, with anyone. Just show them a room of toys, toys they don’t necessarily have at their own house. Yet, rather than being able to sit around and chat with another mom, we are often both forced to negotiate toy schedules with our children when they tire of sharing and taking turns. We have to aid in compromises between our kids when one wants to play outside and the other wants to cook fake food in the fake kitchen. All I want to say to my three-year old when that happens, is, "Just give mommy two minutes. She's having such an awesome conversation with this mom she really wants to be better friends with. Can't you figure it out by yourselves? We just talked about switching out the coffee for wine next time. I really want to be invited back. Don't ruin this for me!"
I mean, is it really bad to serve alcohol at playdates? I am not talking about getting drunk with another mom while our kids have sword fights in the play room. We do have to safely drive our little ones home when it’s time to leave. But is it so bad to responsibly enjoy one glass of wine at an afternoon playdate? I personally think afternoon means anything after 12pm. And it’s okay if the wine sits on the table while both moms have to broker those peace deals. Wine doesn’t go from hot to undrinkable cold like the coffee does.
No matter how the playdate goes, good or bad, they always end in meltdowns. When it’s time to go, my son cries and screams that he’s not ready. Every fucking time! The same happens when his friends leave our house. And when one cries, they all cry. The last playdate we had, my son was a bit antisocial, didn’t want to do anything his friends did, sucked at sharing, wouldn’t stop making noise with a truck that his friends said was too noisy for them, and yet when it was time to leave, he threw himself on the ground, kicking and screaming that he didn’t want to leave. His friends joined in with their own cries of not wanting to end the playdate and start nap time. Next time, I'm bringing noise cancelling headphones.
When we finally got in the car and my son was happy again and forgot the tantrum from five minutes ago, he adorably asked me, “Mommy, next time can we have a sleepover there?” And I wanted to scream, “YOU BARELY EVEN PLAYED WITH THEM!”
Just because I don’t love playdates, doesn’t mean I don’t want to be invited to your house with my little one. He is an only child, he does need to socialize, and I need an activity to fill the afternoon until it’s time for dinner, bath, and bed. Plus, I’m always looking for other mom friends who cringe when they hear the word playdate as much as I do.
Someone really needs to invent Tinder for playdates. This way, the playdate is now all about the moms getting along and making new friends. Our kids can play with anyone. Throw them in a room filled with and endless supply of Legos, give them some cookies, and they will be fine, right?
So If you only let your kid play at houses that don’t believe in television and strictly serve organic, gluten-free, sugar-free, nut-free, egg-free baked goods (so in other words, cardboard), you probably want to swipe left on me. But if you too get panicky at the sound of the word playdate, we might be a perfect match, so please swipe right! And maybe, just maybe, I will find the other moms who also want to sit at the table, enjoying a glass of Cabernet, while our kids battle it out for Talking Thomas at the train table.