Confession time: I can’t stand playdates. I know that our toddler needs to get out and about and be “socialized,” but playdates just never seem to go well for us. The biggest problem is that we don’t have a lot of friends with kids our son’s age, so we’re always trying to set things up with acquaintances. Neighbors, coworkers and friends-of-friends who we aren’t close enough for us to really feel comfortable around. It’s like a double blind date with children thrown in! Children who, naturally, decide that playdate time is the perfect excuse to have an all-out stranger danger meltdown and suddenly refuse to share anything because it’s all “mine mine MINE!”
Worse yet is when the kids’ playtime does go well. Then us adults actually have to talk and – being that we don’t really know each other – that’s a little strange. My husband and I are both perfectly sociable people, but it always seems that we have absolutely nothing to say to our fellow playdaters. You’d think we’d have a lot in common. Afterall, we have kids the same age! Inevitably, though, it becomes obvious that we have completely opposite parenting ideals. I whip out some homemade organic muffin snacks for the kiddos; the other family busts open a package of Oreos and Diet Pepsi. My husband mentions our crib; the other guy responds with something about co-sleeping. I put my child in time-out while the other kid gets a long lecture. One way or another, we all feel just a little out of place.
And then there’s the sheer destructivity of our child. Have I mentioned that our not-yet-2-year-old is already the size of a 4-year-old? I literally see other parents’ mouths drop in shock as he approaches. I know exactly what’s going through their heads. “That kid better not beat up my toddler.” The church childcare director always tries to stick him in with the older kids where the poor guy is totally lost, unable to even put a sentence together! I feel like I need to put out a want ad: Progressive Parents of Giant, Rambunctious Toddler Seek Like-Minded and Equally Huge Family.
Fortunately, he has a brother just 18 months younger. Soon enough he’ll have a built-in playmate, sans awkward relatives.
How do you feel about playdates? Any tips to make this process go a little more smoothly?