I hate playdates. There, I said it. We've tried several times to hang out with families who have kids in Some Boy and Sidekick's age ranges, and it never goes well. The kids usually get along great. Us parents, however, have a harder time. Most of Nate and I's close friends don't have children, so we wind up doing the playdate thing with “acquaintances.”
Needless to say, these people don't always align with us in terms of parenting styles.
Our last playdate started smoothly. Our sons were playing together nicely. And then my son picked up a stick and started running around like a spazz. He wasn't pointing it at anyone. He was more, sort of, pretending that it was a sword and generally waving it in the air at some invisible foe. Like a free-spirited toddler. Like he always does.
“Uh-oh,” said the other mom. “Some Boy's got a stick!”
She looked at me like I was supposed to do something about it.
“Right…uhh…dude, give me the stick. Apparently we're not supposed to run with sticks.”
Undaunted by the loss of his stick, my precocious toddler made a beeline to the refrigerator, yanked out the whipped cream (why this can is still within his reach is beyond me) and proceeded to spray a big dollop into his mouth. He kindly offered the sweet, sprayable deliciousness to his little friend. I was SO proud of my little sharer!
“No, honey, we don't eat treats before dinnertime,” the other mom intervened.
Uh, right. Us either. Not. At. All.
And then – the cherry on top of the whole experience – my kid marched over to his beloved dog and planted a big, wet kiss directly on Kraken's slobbery lips. “Muuuuah!”
The look of sheer mortification on the other parents' faces was priceless. I don't think I helped AT ALL with my explanation that scientifically, dog's mouths are cleaner than our own. True story, you guys, I'm just saying.
The family found a polite excuse to leave shortly thereafter. God forbid they linger in the dreaded stick-wielding-sweet-imbibing-dog-macking house.
Here's the thing, people. We like to live. We get out there and we get messy and dirty and sometimes we get hurt. But we enjoy every second of it.
I will not have my children look back on their lives and remember a slew of antibacterial wipes and a series of motherly “No”s. And I won't judge other parents who do it differently than me. We all have our reasons for the parenting styles we choose. I'm all about freedom and expression and the beauty of the ungraceful moments, largely because I grew up in a rigid home with stifling rules. It took ages for me to break free of that overbearing presence and embrace who I really am at my core. Other parents have grown up differently and responded accordingly. I like learning from them and commiserating together, and I really do hope that one day we can find our perfect playmate pals.
In the meantime, I guess we'll just keep having our epic failures.