If you have children it's inevitable that, at some point, they'll make friends. Which, of course, means they'll want to hang out with said friends outside of school or daycare. You know what I'm talking about — playdates. Ugh. After years of failed playdates, the word still haunts me. While it's great that my kid is being all social and stuff, there's no denying that the most annoying parts of any play date are the things that keep me from wanting to, you know, do it ever again. Is that too harsh? Maybe. However, in the past kids (and sometimes their parents) have created environments that make for less than stellar times that have essentially scarred both me and my child forever.
It may seem dramatic but when my daughter started preschool at the ripe, old age of three, she gravitated towards the meanest girl in the whole class. She was the wolf pack's leader in true Mean Girls fashion. At first, I passed off her "unique" personality as simply part of being a 3-year-old toddler. Perhaps the girl needed some more experience in social settings to learn how to live in a civilized society. Or, maybe she'd eventually become a bigger bully. I tried to teach my daughter differently, hoping she'd learn how not to behave. If we can't learn from being around someone so, err, different, we can't possibly evolve, right?
Through the course of the two pre-K school years, my daughter and this girl had a dozen playdates and sleepovers because this is what you do when you have kids and tell them to make friends (no matter how awful it feels at the time). As they "graduated" from this stage of their lives, we said goodbye knowing my daughter would attend a different elementary school and, well, it wasn't worth all the effort. She'd make new friends — hopefully a little more kind — and I'd secretly celebrate the absence.
Now that I'm having to go through it all over again with my son, I'm noticing that not much changes on the play date front. It doesn't matter if get-togethers involve different people or kids, the most annoying parts of supervising a play date remain. In the end, I think it helps to walk into the situation with your eyes wide open, so here are all the ways your child's "friend time" will probably make you want to grab an afternoon martini (or three).
When You Have To Speak To Parents You Don't Know (Or Like)
I've met my fair share of parents over the years and for the most part, they're all pretty great. You know, not amazing but not a basket of deplorables. However, there's always those parents that I just can't pretend to like. They're either obviously rude to my face, totally awkward when the subject of a play date is broached, or neither because they won't acknowledge me or the fact that our children are BFFs. Um, hello?!
One parent even brought her baby, changed him on my couch without anything beneath his bare bottom, and — yes — he peed everywhere. I had to clean it up and then never invited them over again. How about just no to all of this?
When You Have To Reschedule (Again and Again) When Plans Get Cancelled
I get it. Sometimes plans change. I'm not a perfect parent and it's happened to me more times than I'd care to admit. The frustrating part isn't when the plans change, it's how, when, and how many times they end up rescheduled.
If a parent cancels at the last minute? Nope. If it's via email that was sent to some folder I hardly ever check? Nope. And, for the love of all things, if you continue to schedule these damn dates only to cancel in a cycle of apologies and "Let's try for next Wednesdays," I will definitely be saying, "Nope." I'm not telling my kid your kid won't make it again.
When You Have To Explaining To Your Kid Why [Insert You-Know-Who] Doesn't Want A Playdate
My son invited his entire pre-kindergarten class to his birthday party last year. Guess how many came. No really, just ahead and guess. None. Not a damn one.
You try explaining why no one shows up to your 4-year-old son's birthday party, because the only thing worse is having all those cupcake leftover to remind us. He might be over it but this momma bear definitely isn't. As for playdates in general, I think they're exactly like adult dates so what gives when all his little friends are ghosting? We're two months in and still no one's "matched" with my little guy. Maybe it's time for a platonic-kid-friendly-Tinder-type of app to get this party started. What a time to be alive.
When You Discover All The Bad Things The Guest Has Successfully Taught Your Kid
Don't you dare come to my house and position my daughter's Barbie's in a way that forces me to have "the talk." This is more than annoying — it's life altering. No, our bodies don't really bend that way and yes, I'm totally uncomfortable this kid knows what that position is actually called . Thanks but, again, that's a hard pass.
When You Have To Be Nice To Your Guest When He/She Is The Absolute Worst
Of course your daughter spit sunflower seeds all over our house and covered our tree in toilet paper. Since our girls are friends, I'm just going to go ahead and smile through it all and hope you'll talk about manners to your daughter so she'll be polite and respectful to adults and their property. I'll refrain from doing your job for you because it's not my place to do so. What I will do is file this in the back of my mind under "reasons why these people are never coming over again."
When You End Up Feeding Your Kid's Friend More Than You Eat In A Week
How much food is too much? Especially when the child in question raids the refrigerator the entire time. There are rules for eating in someone else's home and, unless there's a medical need, eating everything we have is too much. Too. Freakin'. Much.
When You Have To Lay Down The Gauntlet When You Overhear Someone Being Mean
Here's a little secret: If I overhear your kid being mean to my kid, or vice versa, that's the end of the playdate. The confrontation is uncomfortable and annoying, but if insults and/or physical violence is happening, well, good day.
When You Watch Your Kid's Friend Treat Your Home Like Their Personal Playground
My younger brother used to destroy everything he got his little grubby hands on. Every. Single. Thing. However, he usually broke things in our house — not other people's.
If and/or when the time comes one of my children has a playdate with the kid voted "most likely to destroy things," I'll cancel my plans for the day to keep a tight watch, just in case.
When You See The Family Pet Run Way, In Horror
Oh, my poor babies. I'm an eternal cat-lover and currently have three; one mean grinch on death's door, a young, fearful introvert, and my fluffy rescue who aids my anxiety with her calming demeanor. During the hyper playdates from hell, my kitties scatter, hoping their lives will quickly resume back to normal. Their fear (to which I can't verbally explain to them) is arguably the most annoying thing about my kids' playdates.
When Your Kid's Friend Overstays Their Welcome
If your child has been at my house for more than a couple hours and we didn't plan past that, it's time to pick them up. Like, now. Likewise, if you're here waiting the playdate out with me in my house, and you're not my best mom friend, it's time to shoo.
When Certain Bathroom/Bodily Function Habits Are Different Than Your Own
I'm trying to teach my kids to have a vague understanding of manners (if not be experts in the field) and as far as I can tell, they do great at school and beyond. So when we have a guest over and they're aim is off in the bathroom or I find a smattering of who knows what on the corner of a bedpost, I'm probably going to be a little (read: a lot) annoyed (while hoping my child hasn't done the same elsewhere).
When You Know Your Child Had A Great Time So You Have To Do This Crap Again Soon
Listen, I want my kids to have fun with friends. No really, I do. There's just a lot about the whole "date" situation that I can't claim to love. More often than not, my kids have a great time and want to do it again so, as a mother who loves her children, I'll suck it up and make the plans. This is what sacrifice looks like.
Playdates are part of the growing-up process, I guess. No matter how many we have, there will always be some annoying parts. When reminding myself this isn't about me, I also realize this entire list might be things my kids do in other people's homes. Thus, we come full circle. To all the parents of kids going on all these platonic dates, hang in there. When they're 16, they can drive themselves and leave us the hell out of it. So, you know, at least we have that going for us.