I have never been keen on playdates. When I had my first two
sons, I was still working and the boys were so young that I didn't
feel a lot of pressure to partake. Still, I could certainly
appreciate the incentives for other moms. Playdates offered a
chance to bond with women in a similar situation. They were an
opportunity to learn a few tricks of the trade. They gave moms some
important time with adults.
By the time I had my third son in three years, I was no longer
working. I was also in no shape whatsoever for playdates. My
youngest was a screamer who refused to sleep during his entire
first year of life. Bringing somebody else's unsuspecting child
into this exhausted mix of toddlers, infants and sleep-deprived
parents didn't seem like a very good idea.
So when my oldest son started kindergarten, I was surprised by
the sudden uptick in playdate invitations. Yay! Parents had deemed
my kids worthy enough to invite into their homes! My sons were
making friends! I could run to the grocery store without bringing
the whole motley crew! I only saw the upside.
The concept of reciprocity was slow to take
hold, but it did finally occur to me to invite these same
children back to my home. This is when I learned that adding just
one new boy into my carefully orchestrated world of piano practice
and homework resulted in chaos. It didn't matter how well-behaved
the newbie was, that one extra boy made such an impact. My sons
would battle constantly for his attention. They'd gang up on each
other. My "no screaming" rule went out the window and my authority
was effortlessly usurped by a quartet of amped-up Y
There would be wrestling, running, and the inevitable crying
whenever a kid got his feelings hurt or took an inadvertent elbow
to the face from another boy. And because of my rather high
expectations of all children, I quickly became known as the "mean
mom" who refused to hand out cookies until everybody had washed
their hands, sat quietly at the kitchen table, and used proper
I am a little nuts in case you missed that.
Heading into the CPS winter break, I was sick and tired of the
relentless demands for playdates. The boys had been testing my
patience with recent breaches in etiquette and had gone so far as
to ask for playdates in front of other children and parents. There
is nothing worse than having a parent look at you expectantly as
your kid screams, "Can Bobby come over to our house and play
right now?" I blew up.
I announced to my gang that we were not doing any playdates for
the remainder of the winter. They were not going to anybody's house
and we were not having anybody over. They needed to learn
to play well with each other. They needed to stop haranguing me in
public. They needed to work on developing decorum before I would
ever consider reinstating playdate privileges again.
The collective protest was deafening, to which I responded:
Mommy endured three C-sections to give you people playmates,
so STOP IT. I have scars! I have stretch marks! And you have each
other! NO MORE DISCUSSION.
I added that last part mostly because I didn't want to answer
questions about C-sections.
Since my decree passed, I've received a couple of surprised
looks from moms who fear I am embracing isolationism.
Home-schooling, even. Shaaa. For the record, I will always meet a
mom at a park, a roller rink, or even a bowling alley. Please just
don't assign me any more children. I am a woman who knows her
limits. Perhaps even the fates themselves knew what they were doing
in cutting me off at three kids. After all, we all have a magic
number. Mine is apparently three. Firm.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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