Why Jessica Rowe hates play dates

1430614737555 Why Jessica Rowe hates play dates

Jessica Rowe. Photo: Damian Bennett

Expect your parenting skills to be put to the test when you pencil in a play date, says Jessica Rowe. (Via dailylife.com.au)

Play dates do my head in. Oh, to be one of those mothers who can calmly deal with a house full of other people’s children. Of course I want my girls to have fun hanging out with their friends, but does it have to be on my downtime?

Maybe I don’t want to plan anything while there is the lure of daytime pyjama parties just with my little girls. And the thought of keeping more than two small people entertained for longer than it takes to watch The Muppets Take Manhattan fills me with panic.

Maybe I don’t want to plan anything while there is the lure of daytime pyjama parties just with my little girls. And the thought of keeping more than two small people entertained for longer than it takes to watch The Muppets Take Manhattan fills me with panic.

Almost as disconcerting is when one of my children is invited for a play date and I’m unsure if I’m included. When I get there, do I stay or do I go? And if I do decide to stay, I’ve learnt the ugly way that my parenting skills will be put to the test.

“I want the panda,” says my six-year-old.

“You can’t have the panda. It doesn’t belong to you.”

“I want it.”

“It belongs to Lucy. You can’t come around to play and take her toys with you.”

“I want it!”

My daughter’s grip on the giant fluffy panda is strong. Her little friend looks surprised at this superhero strength from her new classmate. It is our first play date together and I so want it to go smoothly.

I drag my little girl downstairs to have a talk, but she will not let go of the panda. We sit on the spotless cream couch, and already I’m forming an escape plan. How can we leave this house calmly and quietly, without the prized panda?

“You have a choice. Either you play for a bit longer with Lucy or we go now.”

“I want the PANDA!”

“It doesn’t belong to you. Either you play or we leave now.”

“Why does Lucy have more toys than us? It’s not fair.”

Lucy’s mum disappears into the kitchen to loudly unpack the dishwasher.

“Right, we’re going,” I say.

Muttering my apologies to the very nice mother with calm children, I manage to wrestle the giant panda out of my daughter’s arms and throw it back through the front door as we leave.

I don’t remember fighting over pandas when I was little, and I have no recollection of play dates, either. According to Mum, we played with our school friends at school and we’d visit our neighbour’s daughter to play with her Baby Alive doll (though I do recall wanting to take that fancy doll home with me). Other times, we might cross our narrow lane to visit the family whose tabby cat had just given birth to 12 kittens. But most afternoons my sisters and I would stage Abba concerts, lining up sunflower-yellow chairs to use as a stage. That was the extent of our social lives. These days, some small people I know have a more jam-packed diary than me.

Have our lives become so frantically busy that there is no time for messy, spontaneous fun? Do our kids need us to mark down dates in the diary, weeks in advance, to catch up with their friends? (Perhaps some of my uncertainty around play dates also comes from my dislike of the term, which sounds so American.)

So, what are the rules of play dates in the real world? For instance, if you’re the hostess, what is the correct number of children to invite around? A friend told me that her daughter’s school has warned parents about the risks of having three girls playing together – someone always gets left out, and even numbers of children work best. And what is the politest (shortest) length of time for a play date?

Is it rude to specify a pick-up time?

I need to take my own advice, stop trying to keep up with everyone else, and make my pyjama parties compulsory.

But while I do that, please don’t cancel that play date we’ve pencilled in for next Friday afternoon. I don’t want my girls to miss out, and I’ve also got to track down a giant panda at the toy shop.

http://www.dailylife.com.au/dl-people/why-jessica-rowe-hates-play-dates-20150502-1mw1vm.html

Author: Media Source

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