Any parent of a child of playdate age knows you aren’t going to like every single one of your child’s friends. At some point during this allotted time of recreation, other people’s kids become too bossy, too nosy, too loud, too…something. In my experience, most kids want nothing to do with the adults in the house unless you are draped in Popsicles and water balloons. This separation works well as long as you check in frequently enough that the children are not attempting to give your cat a bath or burn down the house.
I was just settling into this summertime routine when my son’s friend came over to play. I specifically told my son this particular playdate would only be two hours, because we had to leave for my daughter’s soccer game.
My son’s friend rolls up beside me with 15 minutes to go and says, “Can I come with you to soccer?”
“Oh, not today, sweetie. We have a full car because we’re bringing one of my daughter’s friends to the game.” My daughter, ever the instigator of bullshit, casually reminds me in front of him that there is actually one seat still available. Pleading ensues. I try, unsuccessfully, to stand my ground. After all, this friend is one of the least annoying. Why not build up some good karma this early into the summer?
We pile into the car and what transpires next feels like a bad version of Jeopardy. One minute he is a polite 9-year-old settling into the backseat. The next, he begins peppering us with questions at auctioneer’s speed.
Are we there yet? Why are we driving so slowly? Why aren’t we there yet? Which town is this in again? It looks like it may rain. Will they still play if it rains? Why is there so much traffic?
I glance over to see my husband’s head retract into his neck like a turtle’s. I turn up the music, hoping to drown out the sound of the kid’s voice.
After dropping the girls off for pregame warm-up, I hear, “Why are we driving away?”
I steel myself a moment and respond, “The girls need to be there early. We are going to eat before the game.” No sooner did the words come tumbling out of my mouth, than another line of questioning ensued.
Where are we going to eat? Can we eat at Pizza Ranch? Why aren’t we eating at Pizza Ranch? But I wanted to go to Pizza Ranch. Is the place we’re going fancy? What is this place? I’ve never been here. Can I order now and you can order later? I know what I want. If I order the wings, how many wings will I get? Do you think the blue cheese comes on the side? How long does it usually take before the food comes? I usually eat at 5:30. This is very late for me. Are we going to miss the soccer game? When do you think the food will get here? Do you think I could sleep over tonight?
After my third shot of tequila, I watch as my husband quietly slips off his seat and underneath the table, where he stays for the remainder of the meal, sucking his thumb in the fetal position. I stare into my empty cocktail in quiet disbelief.
As we drive home after the game, it dawns on me there may be families out there who have hosted my son and feel similar disdain. I would like to publicly apologize to those parents for any anguish our family may have caused you. As well as any hangovers.