"You know, my house isn't this messy. You're home all the time, so I thought it would be cleaner in here."
My son's friend stood with his hands on his hips, critically surveying the chaos that engulfs my 900 square foot house. He was the first kid we'd had over from school, a new pal that my son really connected with. I was looking forward to making new friends—not defending my housekeeping skills.
"I have more fun playing outside and baking than I do cleaning," I responded. "Wouldn't you rather be outside?"
"I like videogames, but your TV is too small and I hate the outdoors," the little friend said. Needless to say, that was the last playdate we had with that particular pal. It also marked the beginning of the end of my obsession with hosting the "perfect playdate."
Having been a stay-at-home mom for the past several years, I've hosted—and attended—more playdates than I can count and for every get together that has gone perfectly, there's one that I'd sooner forget. With both my kids in school full-time, I feel like I'm finally in the twilight of the playdate life stage. I say this with zero remorse, as playdates are among my least favourite parenting chores. Because, beyond the criticism of my housekeeping, I've had playdates that end in kids bleeding, falling into rivers, falling off bikes, barfing, sleepovers without sleep, and, of course, tears. Lots and lots of tears. Can you see why I'm not a fan of playdates?
Typically, unless a child has behaved terribly or bandages and freezies were needed to fix a boo-boo, I keep the nitty-gritty of the playdate to myself. This is because I'm a firm believer in "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all", unlike, ahem, some of the guests I've had at playdates. This advice is in line with what psychotherapist and parenting educator Andria Nair gave to KJ Dell'Antonia of the New York Time's Motherload earlier this week. In Dell'Antonia's Parent to Parent post, she wonders about the etiquette required when playdates turn from sweet to sour.
Read more: Has your kid befriended a troublemaker?>
Wondering whether I was alone in having playdates go sour, I asked Today's Parent readers for their funny playdate stories. Here's what they had to share:
"I'm kind on known as the 'fun mom' with my son's friends, mainly because I always bring enough yummy (not always healthy) snacks for everyone. One day we were having a playdate with a good friend and her son when he burst into tears. He cried, 'I want to be Taylor!' My son and I just looked at each other in bewilderment. I wanted to tell the little boy, Taylor doesn't get to see his daddy all the time like he does, so everyone is lucky in their own way. But I didn't want my son to feel bad. It was a totally awkward moment." —Jillian D. via Twitter
"One of my second daughters' friend's asked, 'Doesn't your mother ever clean this place?' Grrrrrrr! —Wendy H. viaTwitter
"A little girl sleeping over came up to my room at one a.m., sneezing with red eyes said she was allergic to dust. OK, then." —Amy O. via Twitter
"My favourite includes doing laundry because the town kids love our farm mud but need to be pulled out of it. #alwaysmud." —Janine L. via Twitter
Do you have a funny playdate story?
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