Play Date Etiquette
“Play date” is a term that, like “synergy” or “bleeding edge,” makes me gag when I hear it. I hate the idea of a play date: parents turning their kid’s precious little free time into a scheduled commitment to have forced fun with another kid who the parent, not the kid, picks. It seems like the ultimate in freakish control: commanding who your child plays with, carefully selecting an ideal setting and time for the façade of fun, and then forcing another parent and kid into the deal. It sounds awkward and awful and quite possibility the very term “play date” sums up everything that is wrong with modern parenting. But let me tell you this; even though I hate the sound of them, I love me a play date. My kids probably have play dates three or four times a week, maybe more. Granted, they are low-key affairs like inviting another kid over to our house after school or meeting up at a park or for dinner, but they are tiny slivers of salvation. Although it might sound pathetic, they give me a much-needed social outlet (I work by myself, folks! Sometimes I don’t see another adult all day.) and give you a chance to commiserate with another adult person about the pressing matters of the day, from world news to lost “lovies.” But like most real dates, play dates are socially awkward affairs until you get your “steadies”—that is, find the parents you mesh with and the kids your kid plays well with (or at least doesn’t bite). So here’s a handy guide to some good play date etiquette. And I promise, you never have to utter the term “play date”; instead, you can, like any creative person would do when faced with possible rejection in the real dating world, find another vague way to ask, such as “Junior loves that skate park, we go on Wednesdays—why don’t you come join us sometime?” Share your play date etiquette tips and stories below!
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