Saturday, October 20, 2007

October playdate

Can someone tell me when, exactly, parents began using the term "playdate?" When did it become an acceptable term in the lexicon of parenthood? And why am I able to actually utter this word in a conversation, while maintaining a straight face?

I remember once, at work (what feels like eons ago) my boss and I were chatting about his son, and how he had a playdate scheduled that afternoon with a friend from his building. I distinctly remember bursting out laughing.

Yeah. I've always been the consummate professional.

me: "A playdate? (barely concealed snorting) A play date?? You mean you scheduled a date? For your son? For someone to come over and play?? Really? I don't get it."

B: Yeah..that's what we do. It's different these days. You schedule these things. It's harder when you live in the city. Your kids don't just play with the kids next door. It's just more organized.

me: I don't think we ever had anything like a playdate growing up. We just played with whoever was around in the neighborhood. Whenever our moms had their friends over, they brought their kids and we were all expected to play and keep out of the way while the adults sat around and ate and did whatever they did. We spent a lot of time in the basements.

B: Yeah. Things are different these days.

I walked away with the kind of smug feeling of superiority resrved for singletons without children, that deserves to be smacked indiscriminately. Indeed, as I have come to learn, life has gotten more complicated, and playdates are a regular part of our week. So regular, in fact, that Monkey is able to recite our schedule verbatim.

"on Monday, we have school. On Tuesday, we have school. On Wednesday, we have school. On Thursday, we have playdate. On Friday, we go to cooking class at kiddie U.!"

He even discusses who he would like to have a playdate with.

Monkey: First nap, then go to Bandit's house for playdate. (Bandit is a cat, by the way.)

Or this one:

Monkey: First nap then have a playdate with Gina! (Gina is the mother of a little girl. Gina remains Monkey's idealized version of all things womanly..the object of his undying, unrequited love.)

This week's playdate consisted of moms and kids from our local mother's group. In keeping with the spirit of the season, we borrowed from Halloween themes and decorated accordingly.

But even before the table was fully set for snack time, Monkey spied the tell-tale box brought by a guest. "Munchkins?" He pondered aloud. "Want a munchkin??"

How did he know what was in the box?? I know he can't read yet. Was it the coloring of the box? He's had munchkins before. But jeesh...why can't he show this level of commitment to learning when it comes to circle time at school? Or potty training, for the love of God?

Meaningful interaction is an expected part of a good playdate. Here, Miss Mina demonstrates how not to do it. Notice the complete turning away from her compatriot. Two ships...floating side by side...completely indifferent to one another.

Once in awhile, the munchkins crossed boundaries and forced the issue. Usually, a coveted toy was involved. Sometimes all it takes is a good icebreaker.

Never underestimate the power of a good chocolate cupcake. It brings out the roar in even the most well-behaved toddler.

I was surprised by the Monkey at this week's playdate. For the first fifteen minutes, he was completely antisocial...hiding out in the living room, while all the kids congregated in the playroom. He didn't want to have anything to do with anybody despite several efforts to draw him out. Finally, I left him alone, and sure enough..he came into the playroom on his own accord.

There, he mingled freely with the guests, smiled nice for the mommies, and played alongside others at the chalkboard. Miss Mina was so shocked, she held on to her hat for support.

I took it all in stride until the point when he dragged his overstuffed Teddy bead into the middle of the room and began jumping up and down. At this point, it appeared as though Monkey was performing for the crowd, and having a grand time doing it. Whose kid was this??
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