I mean, if you want to have my kids over for a “play-date,” I might accept the invitation provided you don’t expect me to reciprocate. Now, I know that’s not generally socially acceptable in this day and age, but let me explain…
When I was growing up – and probably when you were growing up, too – there was no such thing as a “playdate.” If you wanted to play with someone, you went and knocked on their door and asked if they could come outside to play. Playing was playing – there was no “date” – i.e., scheduling – involved. You and your friends got together and played tag or hide and seek or jump rope or rode bikes, or climbed trees, or smoked filched cigarettes, or hell, even toilet papered other people’s houses – but none of this required parental organization and management.
The whole playdate phenomenon has come about because we over-parent and over-schedule our kids nowadays. In addition to school, there is the excessive burden of homework (which has grown exponentially since I was a kid), plus all the extracurricular and enrichment activities that kids are involved in. So, sure, if kids want to play now, it has to be squeezed into the ol’ schedooley, and parents, for whatever reason, feel compelled to arrange and oversee it.
I’m not a fan.
I’m in favor of going back to the good old days when kids just showed up at each other’s front doors and played with whomever was available, preferably outside. Maybe a really nice mom would hand out popsicles to the ragtag bunch of kids in her yard, but providing a lovingly pre-prepared (hmm, is that a word?) sit-down snack was not part of the deal. And the moms were not expected to hang out together just because their kids hung out together. I mean, I want to know that you’re not a serial killer or a child molester, but we don’t have to be friends if we’re not already friends. So let’s just take that pressure off of each other right now.
And yeah – truth be told, I do have my hands full enough with my seven as it is; it’s highly unlikely that you’re ever going to get a phone call or note from me inviting you to add your brood to mine. No, I’m just not a masochist, okay? And even if I did wake up with a wild impulse to arrange a playdate on my very own turf, chances are that I would never actually be able to make it happen because I’m so scattered these days, it’s a wonder I remember to change Scarlett’s diaper a few times a day. Plus, I yell a lot.
So it’s better for all involved if you just send your kids over to knock on our door and ask if my kids can come out to play. Just don’t expect your kids to partake in any organized crafts or activities here, to eat an organic, homemade snack, or to arrive back home with a goodie bag. You’ll be lucky if they arrive back home without a new bad habit or swear word they’ve picked up from my kids.
While your kids and my kids are playing outside, I’ll be relaxing inside with a cocktail, thanking my lucky stars that someone got them out of my hair for a while.