Would you like play?

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That is what Zoey likes to ask.  “Would you like to play?”  She excels at this kind of brave social behavior…after hours and hours of practice.  You see, it’s my job (aka MOMMY) to “socialize” her.  “Stay at home mom” doesn’t mean we sit at home eating popcorn and reading magazines.  No, my children must EXPERIENCE the world, in all its IKEA/Target/wading pool wonder.  We AIN’T talking about a trip to Europe, here.  This requires much more strategy to survive.  You can be eaten alive in the world of playdates.

Seriously.  When Zoey asks, “Would you like to play,” I’m sizing up the situation….”Do you smoke, do you have guns, and why is your husband smiling so much at my kid?”  I don’t care what people say….life just isn’t as safe as it used to be.  Because there are perverted freaks out there, seeking out my children.  Because there are MEAN little girls out there, who smile and then cut of my kid’s pony tail.  Because there are some moms – well, let me be blunt – I’d rather chew off my left foot vs spend an ounce of my own time with them.  I know, I know, it’s snobby and paranoid and irrational….and just plain ME finding my comfort zone.

I’m not alone.  I know many a mom who has sized me up while I hovered over Zoey at the local park.  We dance around the swings, pushing our children higher and higher.  The small talk starts…. only to lead to “Oh, you have a degree/you knit/you go to X school?  Do you want to get our kids together?”  Done.  Assessment complete.  Except that, THEIR child has wandered off to put a plastic bag over their face or spazz out on the ground (as if convulsions draw attention these days).  Uh, maybe not so done.

And then there are the dramas that ensue with my older boys.  Kids are quirky.  I get it.  But when they hunt for money at EVERY playdate (year upon year)….or wipe boogers on my kid’s sleeve…. or whip out the “F” word …(sigh).  The playdate is a tricky dilemma.  It can lead to longer friendships.  It can lead to social stigmas.  It can lead to awkward parent talks.  (ex:  no I did not know you had a hysterectomy and your husband is divorcing you – I’m so glad we JUST met 2 minutes ago).

My point is, this is a critical and exhausting part of parenting.  Call me paranoid, but at least I sleep at night knowing that my kids have found great friends from nice families.  So far.  Friends and playmates move away, change school and evolve as kids grow.  The playdate game is never-ending.  I suppose it ends with, “Are you good enough to marry my daughter?  Prove it.”

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