Parent or PA?
The Playdate. It’s a relatively new phenomenon, isn’t it? Yet another one for the growing list of tasks of the 21st century parent. Not only do we now schedule our kids’ social calendars like PAs but we must invite someone else’s child into our home and oversee the proceedings like a watchful schoolmarm, instead of just sending our kids into the street to play like our parents did. They had it easy. They didn’t investigate, vet or chaperone, they just let us off with the assumption we’d return when we got hungry.
The term can conjure up fear and panic in any parent. The responsibility for ensuring the safety of someone else’s child combined with the new social dynamic under your own roof can make for a minefield of potential challenges. When we go blindly into a playdate we have no way of knowing how it will play out and whether or not personalities will clash. Things can be easy or very, very difficult with success hinging on the temperament of the guest and the chemistry between the ‘daters’. When it goes well, it’s a thing of beauty; kids harmoniously enjoying a shared interest and playing peaceably can give you the warm and fuzzies like a good episode of First Dates. On other occasions, however, it would be easier to host Milania and Michelle for an afternoon.
Forewarned is Forearmed
Wouldn’t it take the edge off the anxiety a bit if potential guests came with a heads-up from someone in the know? If we knew in advance that Johnny wasn’t the kind of kid who would rummage in your kitchen presses, snatch snacks off the toddler, whizz all over your bathroom floor and decapitate a Lottie doll? Wouldn’t it be nice to know beforehand that his parents aren’t the type to send him to your home with a mystery rash or head-lice?
If these playdate requests were accompanied by references then we would know exactly what we were getting and we could assess the risk to our homes and mental health before committing.
Letter of Recommendation
To whom it may concern:
It is my pleasure to write this letter of recommendation for Johnny as he seeks invitations to further playdates in the locality. I’ve had six-year-old Johnny in my home on two recent occasions and can attest to his mannerly disposition, his ability to share, and his aptitude for interactive play.
- Johnny actively contributed to the playdate in a very positive way. He played with Lego with quiet determination and his creations were commendable. Unlike my own son, he remained unfazed by the fact that a large volume of the pieces were missing.
- Johnny engaged in none of the following: biting; pushing; shouting; taunting; sulking; swearing; interfering with the goldfish or locking himself into the downstairs bathroom.
- Johnny does not have any special dietary requirements. He smilingly accepted snacks and did not complain about the appearance, smell or taste of any food items he was offered.
- He did not compare the size of our house to his own, nor did he comment on my housekeeping, despite his obvious dust allergy.
- At no point did Johnny use the word ‘bored’ or any variation thereof.
- Throughout the playdate Johnny operated at a satisfactory noise level and on no occasion used a tone which could be described as whiny or annoying. He was happy to play both outdoors and indoors and he did not speak disparagingly about the limited garden space, something previous guests have struggled with.
- Johnny did not break any toys, either on purpose or accidentally.
- Johnny did not cause any injuries, either on purpose or accidentally.
- Johnny did not crack the cistern cover, either on purpose or accidentally.
- Johnny did not slice my new Karen Millen coat with the craft scissors, either on purpose or accidentally.
- Johnny did not draw the outline of Danger Mouse on the TV screen with Pritt-Stick, either on purpose or accidentally.
- At no point did Johnny scale the garden wall and enter the neighbour’s property in pursuit of a frog.
- Johnny did not hack at the toddler’s plastic tunnel with a toy knife in the manner of Norman Bates.
- He did not spiral into a tantrum on losing a particularly competitive game of Monopoly Junior, nor did he throw the Guess Who character boards against the kitchen wall in a fit of rage.
- Johnny does not need assistance in the bathroom and has no apparent issues with aim.
- He does not have parents whose faces twitch on hearing that he ate refined sugar and watched three episodes of Rescue Bots.
- When it was time to leave, Johnny did not hide in the garden shed, thus disturbing a wasps’ nest.
I’m linking this post with some of these…