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Thursday, May 10, 2012

How to Survive a Playdate

How to Survive a Play Date
Subtitle - For some asinine reason you have to now be friends with the parents of the kids your kids know and they are 99% of the time ape-shit crazy.
Step 1: What in the hell is a Play Date you may ask? A play date is just what the title implies, it is a date to play.  Yes, and I want someone to research this and get back to me, but in the 21st century kids don’t just go over one another’s houses any more to play.  Their parents come along.  And you have to sit there. And entertain them too.  Wait, you might be asking, doesn’t that help you out? Aren’t they there to watch their own kid so your kid can play AND you don’t have to worry about yelling at another kid? No, they’re not. They STILL don’t. They would rather sit and gossip to you about every other mother in your kid’s class, every other woman in the neighborhood, or any other woman you might possibly have dirt on while their little brat rips around you house.  Note I say women. This is because men are smart enough not to agree to this. 
Step 2: Now that you know what a play date is, how do you arrange one? Let’s begin with how NOT book a play date.  Do NOT buy play date cards. What’s a play date card? Google it, because I don’t want to get sued by putting a link to one here.  I’ll wait; I’ve got a shirtless pic of Michael Shanks on my desktop to stare at while I wait.  Found them, didn’t you? Yeah, they are for real. No, this is not Victorian England; I think that anything on HBO is proof of that.  Insane, right? Don’t do that.  Instead, in an effort to try to normalize this ridiculous trend, try a good old fashioned hand-shake and “Are you and your kids free this Saturday?” Since you are asking like humans used to do before technology, you might actually get a normal person, since the neo-yuppie-parenting magazine- show-offs will not understand something that did not come from their iPhone. (Not that I don’t love iPhones - Siri and I are TIGHT, not like that, ugh, stop.) 
Step 3:  You’ve gotten someone to agree to come over.  Someone who knows how to speak to another human being. Excellent.  Now you must prepare.  
Now, first, obviously, you have never had this little demon in your house.  Granted they could be the nicest child on the planet, but they could also could be the incarnate of Lucifer himself.  You don’t want anything broken and if you are like me you also need to move your expensive antique furniture to your bedroom because while you might have trained your kids to not act like animals chances are you are the only one.  However, the  irony in all of this is that you also need to hide these things from the parent guest because they will start right in “complimenting” your home.  By “complimenting” I mean scrutinizing the hell out of it.  In my case, I get the “Awww... your house is so pretty, how can you afford it on a teacher’s salary.” This is where my posting on “How to not punch a $%@*@ in the $&@*!” comes into play (see Monday May 7th 2012). The best way to avoid this is to hide everything.  Scan your house, look for anything that might be a conversation piece and HIDE IT.  That way, you don’t need to keep your bail list handy.  
Step 4: Plan some kind of activity.  Again, this kills two birds with one stone.  First, you are occupying junior to an extent and saving your home from imminent destruction.  Second, you are keeping mom near junior, where hopefully she will be less likely to gossip in front of little ears.  Just don’t plan a craft. A craft, especially involving glue, glitter or paint defeats the entire purpose of planning an activity.  I suggest something that is simple but takes a really long time.  Something like frisbee or kickball.  That keeps everyone outside and wipes the little boogers out.  
Step 5: Have a back up plan. It might rain, in which case you need a good indoor activity.  For such an activity, I recommend a puzzle or a board game.  Here is why: since there are often small pieces and complicated rules you will need to help your child play and therefore you can avoid the above mentioned mommy conversation.  A puzzle or a game also keeps them confined to one room and helps avoid the TV conversation.  Again, for your newbies, this is the part of the parent conversation where your visitor now lectures you on everything that they allow their child to watch, do not allow their child to watch and try to persuade you to agree with them.  Whatever their reasons, they all come from the Puritan influence on our society, which will be a later co-post I am working on with a friend.  
Step 6: Food. Every play date involves snack time. THIS is where you can play your hand, a hand that will either give a signal to the parent that you want them back or can send them running.  Why? Because the judgment by the other parent continues!! You think they are only looking at your house, your activity choice, your television restrictions, but now they get to criticize your food.  We eat pretty healthy around here and I have been told that parents ‘feel sorry’ for my kids because they eat fruit and carrots for snacks.  Yeah, true story.  Breathe in, breathe out.  So, look, just do this, buy a box of those Capri Suns and get some Chex Mix.  Honestly, I have had very few people complain about this one because Capri Suns don’t have dyes and are lower in calories and Chex Mix is low fat and tastes good and the store bought kind does not have peanuts, so no allergy warnings.  And, it’s cheap. We don’t really want to spend money on this, do we? That is of course if you want them to come back.  If you don’t, simply serve the opposite of what they have been preaching this entire play date. Or buy Hershey bars.  Most people still think that sugar makes kids hyper, even though it has been disproven OVER AND OVER (proof: but most people do not read anything that has big words. If you serve the Hershey Bars then the parent will hate you forever and never bring their brat back.  You might not even needs steps 7-10!!! (Well you always needs step 10, but we have learned what that is, haven’t we?) 
P.S. - Hershey Bars will work even if your neo-yuppie-parent magazine guest knows sugar does not make kids hyper because it is chocolate and chocolate has caffeine.  Need I say more? 
Step 7: The conversation.  Even if you have taken all of my steps above to heart, you will still need to interact, to an extent, with the other parent.  Again, the direction that you take depends on whether or not at this point you want this person(s) back in your home.  If you do, have at it and talk it up. Enjoy yourself and keep thinking that I was making all of this up and play dates are not so bad.  However, chances are that you are dying inside.  In which case, here is my advice.  Play crazy.  I am not kidding here.  And not institutional crazy, some of these crazies will call Child Protective Services on you, but bored mommy crazy. Hobby/obsession/fan crazy.  Bet you know what mine is...The minutes the words “I am in love with Daniel Jackson would you like to read my Stargate insert character fan fiction,” cross my lips, the play date might as well be over.  Now, I think there is nothing wrong with writing cheesy Mary Sue insert character fan fiction, especially since mine was all written late a night when my kids were asleep, my hubby was working, Primetime TV was sucking and I was bored and awake, but most people think that not only being a fan of something NOT trending on Twitter AND actually writing or doing something creative about it is insane. Completely insane.  AND most other parents think that the only women that like Science Fiction are either a) really boys or b) desperate fan-girls with no lives , so when me, normal mom with life mentions that I like it, the annoying moms go running.  Works every time.
Step 8: Ending the play date.  So soon, you think? At only step 8? Yes, we are through with this. Before the play date itself starts, have your out preplanned.  Make yourself sound sooooo busy, that you are trying sooooo hard to squeeze this play date in because our kids as friends in soooo important.  Makes yuppie mom feel good about herself, and she needs that. Lets you set limits and you need those more.  Come up with something concrete that you would never be able to get out of.  I like to use family members, i.e. my mom has this huge farm and I promised to help her when the farrier came, etc.  Then, as soon as you get annoyed by your caller, you can look at the clock, act shocked about the time and leap up, trying to frantically prepare for your second appointment.  Most people will take the hint and start to get their brat ready.  If not, just go tell your kids they have to say goodbye to their friend and start cleaning up.  After the clean-up, their little urchin will start whining that there is nothing to do now that the toys are away, and that should clue them in.  
Step 9: Unless the play date went spectacularly well, OR you invited someone over you actually like that just happens to have kids, you will need to sit down and explain to your own kids that Child X cannot come over to play again because they are an impudent hellion and their parent is certifiable without using those words.  Rather than give you an example here, I will give you a script.  “Honey, I hope you had fun today.  I was talking to _________ ‘s mommy today and everyone is so busy that it might be a long time before we can get together to play again, but we will try.”  Come on! It’s not lying!!  It’s called “Withholding the truth.”  We do that all of the time about sex with the kids and it is suddenly wrong here? Damn Puritans. Just do it, ok? Haven’t you learned to trust me yet?!
Step 10: You survived.... until next time.  Who the hell knows when this trend will end? I mean, today you have to do it for your seven year old, but if stupid parenting trends take this into the tween years, well I don’t know about you, but that might call for drastic measures over here.  I will start planning them now and keep you posted.  But for now, let’s not think about that, let’s pull out that Spanish wine and send your angel off to play by themselves.  And pull up that fan fic... because Daniel Jackson doesn’t have any damn kids... (Michael Shanks on the other hand does, which is why we are using Daniel here.  I wonder if he goes through this shit too? Hmmmmm....) 

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