This is One Parenting Practice I Just Don't Understand

by Carmen Rita Wong
Originally Published: 

I am flummoxed. This season, my daughter started third grade at a new school in a new part of town. She had great friends that she hung out with (at their homes and vice versa) in our previous neighborhood and school. But, there were no out-of-the-blue requests from other parents for scheduling allotted time to hang—with kids who aren’t even in her classroom (insert giant exclamation point here because my head short-circuits every time I think about this).

Maybe there’s a clue in my use of the word ‘hang,’ a word I’m assuming my new-school moms may not use. Which makes me inclined to ask you, dear readers and fellow parents, for help in navigating this practice. Share your wisdom. Tell me—

Is it networking?

Why do I feel like I’m being set up to be flayed by a pecking order that I’m not privy to? I’m not being a defensive grump, and those who know me know that I’m far from Drake’s policy of “no new friends.” (I’m all love, baby!) However, I started from the bottom, now I’m here, and that means I’m like, cray-cray busy, soooo…

Maybe you Googled me. Maybe I’ll Google you. Oh, look, you’re a high-ranking executive at a swooned-over think tank. Call me, girlfriend… I’m kidding. Networking through our children seems crass. But, yes, I too am tempted.

Is it a culture thing?

Hey mamas (and papas), I’m multi-culti so I’m open to the ‘new’ and different. However, I certainly did not grow up with playdates. After-school time has always been about homework and keeping quiet. Now, for my girl it’s extracurriculars like drama, music, swimming lessons, etc. Then, homework, dinner, prep for the next day and pretty soon it’s bedtime.

Uh-oh. Maybe my tiger mom rubbed off on me too much. Though my daughter’s activities crumble in comparison to those of my brother’s three daughters: competitive ice skating, clarinet/cello/saxophone playing, robotics-club leading, Mensa genii, and maybe one playdate a year. It’s first- and second-generation American madness, I tell you. School is to learn, no? Or is it…

Maybe I’m just odd…

Where’s the time for this? Perhaps I need to let it settle in that I’m the freak in the school (a fairly familiar position for me to be in, actually). I’m a single mom who owns and runs small businesses. And it’s a 45-minute commute to and from school. I’m crackin’ this nut solo, people.

I dared to politely let an emailing mom (a stranger, by the way, who probably had nothing but good things in her heart), know that I’d need at least a week or two heads up to schedule a playdate/coffee date with us and our girls. I never heard from her again. Freaks and geeks, can I get a whazzup?

So, I ask you: Are my daughter and I destined for social Siberia at her new school (which otherwise is amazing)? Do I need to get on this bandwagon, and quick? I know that you can help me understand this phenomenon. But please, whatever you do, don’t ask me for a playdate.

This article was originally published on