When we were growing up in the 80s, the term “play date” was not yet in the collective vocabulary. We played outside with our friends and went home when the streetlights went on. As far as I remember, my mom didn't have much to do with my time with my friends. She certainly didn't organize it. I just shouted “Mom! I'm going out to play!” as I walked out the door and left her to watch Days of Our Lives and drink sweet tea on our brown, floral sofa.
My, how times have changed. Nowadays moms get reported for letting their children be outside alone. Police are called if children walk to the neighborhood park unsupervised. We parents have to arrange playtime for our precious snowflakes and their friends. We text or email days in advance to arrange time between harp lessons, toddler yoga, and 3D printing classes for our kids to play with other children.
During the summer I tend to plan more play dates for my three kids because it helps break up the long days and gets them out of my hair for an hour or two. The best play dates are the ones where the kids entertain each other and keep each other occupied long enough for me to do a load of laundry and unload the dishwasher.
And then there are these- the worst types kids to have over for a play date:
1. The Miniature Grown-Up
This kid is more interested in hanging out with me than playing with my kid. He follows me around the house asking me who my favorite Marvel character is. Listen dude, I will be more than happy to shoot the shit with you when you are old enough to share a bottle of Chardonnay, but for now, please go play Legos with the other kids, mmmkay?
2. The Destroyer
We've all had the misfortune of having a destroyer in our home. This kid can dump out every tote, bin, and toy box in an impressive 1.7 seconds flat. He flits from one toy to the next without putting anything away, and usually leaves half of the toys broken in his wake. Plenty of beheaded Barbies and broken Lego sets have taught my own kids to hide their best toys before a destroyer comes over.
3. The Bottomless Pit
This kid is always hungry. He asks for a snack before he even crosses the threshold. He greets everyone with a “do you have anything to eat?” If he is missing, chances are he can be found sticking halfway out of the pantry, foraging for crackers. When he has learned that you won't just feed him whenever his little heart desires, he starts bringing his own food. Even though you have a strict “no food in the family room” rule, after he leaves you can bet you will find some crushed up Pringles ground into the carpet.
4. Sticky Fingers
This kid puts Houdini to shame. You realize after she's gone that your daughter’s favorite American Girl outfit is missing. When asked about it, her mom is so surprised to find it tucked away in the kid’s pocket. “How in the world did that get there? Oh, and how weird! There's an American Doll in her backpack, too. How strange! She must have gotten them mixed up with her own.” Right.
Sticky Fingers is not usually invited over again. But if she does come to play on another occasion, you learn quickly how to give a quick pat down disguised as a hug. The only one who thinks it is weird is your daughter.
“Um, Mom? Why are you hugging her? You don't hug any of my other friends when they leave.”
“Oh, I just like this girl so MUCH!” you exclaim with one final squeeze to make sure she didn't somehow make off with your wallet.
5. The Complainer
If there's anything worse than listening to your kids whine, it is listening to other kids whine.
“I'm boooooored. Do you have any other toys? I don't like these. I don't waaaaaant to play that! I don’t liiiiiiike this snack. My mom only gives me orgaaaaaanic snacks.” This behavior at my house has one solution.
“Oh, would you look at the time! It's time for you to go home.”
“But my mom’s not coming to pick me up for another hour!”
“No? Well, that's okay. We will drive you home! Here are your shoes!”
This is all said with a phony, plastered on smile, of course. My kids know better than to ask The Complainer over to play again. They know full well Mommy is allergic to whine. Because I remind them every day.
It’s a good thing I’m not allergic to drinking wine, however. I need that stuff to get through my kids’ summer play dates.