Let me first start by declaring I really dislike play dates. Always have, probably always will. It may sound inexcusable or snooty but the truth is that they stress me the hell out. Always have, always will. Something about expecting children (or worse yet, babies!) to "play together willingly" is the most absurd thing I've ever heard. The last time I checked most toddlers (again babies too) are like old Labradors. Meaning they prefer the company of their own "pack" and not strangers no matter how cute the little neighbor boy who smiles at everyone might be. He's still a stranger and will take some time to entirely sniff and eventually become acceptable (with hackles completely down) company.
Yeah, I know. My poor socially deprived children. I got lots of lectures from well meaning ed friends, family members, acquaintances that included tons of advice for "helping" me through the shyness. (Apparently both mine and the children's were at red alert levels requiring immediate intervention.) I fell for their lectures at times because for years we sucked it up and went on more play dates than my heart was in to but let me assure you I was a complete pile of spent after it was all over. And my children? They came back home, ate their green beans and filled a diaper. So much for making memories. After having Abby, I promised my little anti socialite self we'd opt out of play dates whenever humanly possible. The way I saw it, Grayson came through it fine and now loves playing with and being around other children. Abby has had her brother as company and is now old enough to adjust to unfamiliar surroundings and people too. Nature has taken its course and even without the "necessary"
(coerced in my book) play dating, these kids have thrived and are no worse for the wear.
Not until I moved back home did I realize how fun play dates can actually be! I think the thing missing for me in the past was the knowledge that no matter how much my children crank, cry, cling, or otherwise ugly the place up, my old and dear friends won't care. They understand. They accept. They won't take offense if my child refuses their incredibly thoughtful and sweet Valentine gift (yeah, that really did just happen - SO sorry my friend!) because he was being...well three. In anyone else's company, I would've plunged straight into a horrified ream of apologies and excuses. For my lovely amiga (since kindergarten), however, I smiled meekly and clenched my jaw. She already understood and said as much out loud without any prompting. For this (and many more reasons) I love her unconditionally. She has always been in my corner even when my corner was crowded with boyfriends - evidently high school was my codependent phase - or self confidence issues. She was always there rooting me on and making me believe I had what it took for whatever "it" was. I have awesome friends, you guys; both in real time and in the time free nature of the Internet.
Without further ado, I wanted to post a few pictures of the one exception to my play hate rule. It was a real, honest to goodness playDate and the children had just as much fun with their new friends as I had with my childhood one.
(*I'm not naming anyone here on purpose to protect her and her family's privacy. She's a smart mommy blogger who keeps things close to the vest and I'm going to keep it that way for her.)
Me & Her :)
Grayson peeking over the couch at her sweet little boy.
Demonstrating "On the Wings of Love" through interpretive dance. Very impressive. Too bad it wasn't video.
Her cutie patootie little girl entertaining herself while the boys played upstairs.
The Next American Idol. Obviously.
The Next American Princess.