It’s Friday, and I should be overjoyed. TGIF, right? But much as I love the weekend, weekends bring the inevitable question from my son: Did you make a play date for me?
Ah, play dates. Really, they should be things of beauty and harmony … or at the very least, simple convenience. After all, the idea is that Someone Else is entertaining your child so that you get a few hours of peace to do things like scroll through Pinterest or Facebook. Or enjoy the pure pleasure of holding a complete, coherent thought in your head that’s not interrupted by Mommy! Mommy! I need to battle the Vermax, Mommy! Update Knights & Dragons NOOOOOWWWW, Mommy! DO IT NOW, MOMMY! (BTW, what the hell is a Vermax?)
But, to crib a bit from poet Robert Burns, the best laid plans for play dates often go awry. As I discovered one Saturday afternoon when I invited a girl from my son’s class — a sweet, blonde girl I knew he had a crush on — to come rollerskating with us.
I’ll admit, while I liked the classmate, I was sort of meh about Blonde Girl’s Mom ever since my kid reported that while he’d been at her house for a play date, he’d eaten nothing but candy and spent the entire afternoon shooting virtual deer with a rifle while playing Big Buck Hunter. I wasn’t familiar with that particular video game, but seeing my babysitter’s eyes go wide when Kiddo described it was enough to let me know it wasn’t exactly an all-ages game. Still, he adored Blonde Girl so I was willing to give the whole play date thing another go. I figured the kids could skate; Blonde Girl’s Mom and I could spend a little Mom-To-Mom time getting to know each other. Who knew? Maybe we’d bond over a shared love of ’70s and ’80s roller rink muzak.
And … well … no. Not even close.
“Hey! My toddler’s having a melt-down, so could you keep an eye on these kids while I take him home?” was how Blonde Girl’s Mom greeted me at the skating rink door. No Hi. No Great to see you. Glad you made it. Just a string of words that came out so fast, it sounded like one really long word: Mytoddlershavingameltdownsocouldyoukeepaneyeonthesekidswhileittakehimhome???????
Wait. Huh? What?
My eyes hadn’t even adjusted to the darkness of the skating rink. But I quickly saw what was going on. I’d invited her daughter to go skating with my son. And Blonde Girl’s Mom had shown up with an entourage that included her daughter, her daughter’s younger sister and the girls’ two besties. And, oh yes, the toddler who was flailing around on the floor screaming like he was being filleted with long knives. And she wanted me to keep track of all of them in a dark rink … ON WHEELS … so she could go home. WTF?!?!?
Okay, in her defense, I could see such a request being made in a moment of pure temporary insanity. We’ve all had that unnerving three-year-old-tantrum-in-a-public-place experience. (And if you haven’t yet, don’t worry, you will.) But the horrified look on my face and my flat refusal to be responsible for five kids — one of whom I didn’t even know — in a dark rink, on wheels should have snapped her right back to reality. I mean, in your head that might sound like a plausible, even good, idea. But once the words are out of your mouth and you actually hear them, you gotta think, No, of course not. That’s just crazy talk.
But Blonde Girl’s Mom didn’t win bad play date honors because she asked. It never hurts to ask. Who knows. Another mom — Octomom, that Duggar Mom — might have said Sure! No sweat. Five’s a light load for me! But I find it challenging enough at times to manage even one child. And did I mention they’d all be on wheels? In the dark?
So, no. Blonde Girl’s Mom didn’t win the Bad Play Date Award because she asked. She won because she pushed. Even after I explained — quite rationally I thought — that I was uncomfortable taking charge of five kids, she still tried to bull me into it. Fortunately, I hail from New York City, land of the best therapists ever. I worked out my doormat issues eons ago, and for damn sure I wasn’t getting suckered into this situation.
Though as I proceeded to get my kid his rental skates, I wondered (for the hundredth time since we’d arrived at the rink) why my darling child didn’t want to go skating with any of the kids whose parents I really like to hang out with … who intuitively “get” good play date etiquette … whose kids “get” it too … and who’d never think of saddling a fellow mom with an unruly, unfamiliar brood so they could make a fast escape.
Still, I suppose, the whole afternoon could have been a lot worse.
And there was a silver lining: Given how cranky Blonde Girl’s Mom was during our play date, I really doubt we’ll be getting together again anytime soon.