The day when a group of kids could play together a block or two from their homes with minimal adult supervision is long over. Now, kids need to gather at places where they can be monitored by at least one adult for the duration of play time. Thus, the introduction of the “play date”. I’ve already hosted a few.
In a former life, the idea of me presiding over a house full of kids made about as much sense as a cardigan on a polar bear. Now, I figure better my place than someone else’s. I know I ain’t too crazy or negligent, but I don’t know about the other parents — and I know they’re taking a leap of faith with me. Until we as parents really get to know eachother, we’re all X-factors! But we have to take some risks. Our kids need to socialize and we parents all need breaks.
Play dates with prepubescents are absolutely nerve-wracking, but the insane life I led before I daddy’d up has prepared me well. I can hang, but I’m just sayin’: Yesterday, I spent 20 minutes in a minivan with two 8-year old girls — and my beleaguered son — as the girls repeatedly belted out the word “worm!” at the top of their lungs out the windows. They drowned out the radio, for crying out loud!
I looked over at my son and it was clear he had heard enough. In an effort to teach him to speak up for himself — and admittedly a cowardly way to escape being labeled a party-pooper by my daughter — I said to him “you need to tell them respectfully, but in plain English, how you feel.” And he did just that. I was so proud of him — and so relieved that the girls piped down!
As I drove on, I came to the conclusion that the supervising adult’s role during play dates is not just to watch the children, but to teach them about effective communication and conflict resolution. Then, I thought “Who the heck do I think I am? I never took any child psychology courses in college”. But even that thought couldn’t wipe the goofy, self-satisfied grin off my face.