Playdate Survivor: Awkwardness, Jealousy, and Manipulation

6 Jan

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Few things in life are easy. 

When it comes to being a parent and having a social life, well that can just be a shit show most of the time. Most parents will tell you that the only time they get to talk to other adults is on a “playdate”.

For the non-breeders, this is defined as showing up at a park or one of your kid’s classmates house (which is almost always better looking and cleaner than yours) and having awkward conversations with the other parent, until one of you asks if it is okay if the other watches the kids until you do some errands. 

In an ideal world this would be a perfect opportunity to meet other parents who you might have something in common with. But in reality you end up looking like Grumpy Cat and rethinking all the life choices you have made in the past (enter you child’s age and add nine months) years. 

Some great friendships have been created on playdates, there are even cute books about how to make playdates fun for the adults and not just the kids. But it has been my experience, that most of these playdates are the perfect opportunity for what my husband refers to as “Mom Banging” – it sounds dirty, huh? Mom banging, is just like gang banging, but it is where mothers sit around judging each other’s parenting skills and methods. It’s filled with a flurry of questions about when your child started walking, potty training, reading, etc. then followed up by awkward silences. It is torture!

The best part is your kid always end up being best friends with a child whose parents drive you the most insane. Or even better you and a mom hit it off fabulously and your kids can’t stand each other. 

To make this better for myself and because I love a theme. I have begun to pretend that my children’s playdates are like an episode of Survivor. Sure the other parent has some hidden skill that you wish you had, a MFA from NYU or snake handling experience, but you can be prepared for this!

1. Bring one essential item, depending on the event it can be many things: frisbee, baseball, a blanket. These days it is my own bottle of water, there has been a nasty stomach flu going around.Image

2. Prepare myself to eat something nasty – we live in San Francisco so everyone is either gluten-free, wheat-free, vegan, or allergic to taste. There is always some weird snack being served by the other family. 

3. Set an alarm that sounds like a phone call, so that you have the option of saying “We have to go. An emergency came up.”  

4. Call for back up. There is nothing wrong with having a friend who you actually like show up because they were “in the neighborhood” or “driving by and saw you waving frantically for a rescue.” Note: You better be ready to give you kids a treat to cover for you, because there will be follow up from the other playdate mom.

And the most essential: 

5. Take it easy. Playdates are not suppose to make you feel crapy about yourself, your kids, or life in general. They are supposed to help parents get to know each other. So what if the other mom drives up in an Audi making your Volvo look like a Gremlin, or you are meeting the nanny because the mom is at yoga. It is not the end of the word, at least you got out of the house. In these cases forget the water bottle, bring wine! 

If all else fails be the first one to ask if the other parent wouldn’t mind watching the kids for a bit while you ran to Target. 

 

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