Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I AM NOT YOUR DAYCARE (and other play date violations)
As a mother of three children who span the "we need to set up a playdate" and "Mom, my friends and I just want to hang out" ages, I have spent years dealing with other parents and have worked hard to remain as diplomatic as possible when communicating with different personality types.
But I'm starting to realize that I'm one of the very few who seem to try and work the "play date" system with any sort of tact and I've now figured out why so may of the kids who come to my house seem to be devoid of any manners.
It's because their parents are.
So, for all of those parents who are like me and worry about things like whether you have invited my child over to your house somewhat equally to how many times I've invited your child to mine or who take any consideration for my time and effort and try to put forth the same...I say THANK YOU.
For the rest of you...I'd like for you to get that We're Not Gonna Take It song by Twisted Sister stuck in your head for a while.
Because I'm over it.
1. I am not a daycare:
Did I hand you a release when you dropped your kid off for that first play date? Did I check to see if your kid had been immunized? Nope. Because that initial invite was not a blanket offer for you to drop your kid off at will whenever you need to pop down to the gym. I've got a newsflash for you: I would love a good workout (or at least the option). I would love to meet a friend for lunch. But I don't think it's your responsibility to watch my kid (unless an earlier agreement has been reached) at my leisure while I go get the much-deserved pedicure I couldn't seem to find the time for between the hours of The View and Ellen.
2. I don't want all of your kids:
My cordial invitation was not meant for all of your children. It was meant for the child that my child goes to school with. So, while I'm sure that they are all a delight...they can be delightful at your house.
3. My cell phone is NOT a way for your child to communicate with mine:
Hey...guess what??? I work. And I have shit going on. So, when your child picks up your phone and starts texting mine with messages like "are you home? hello? hello?" or "I want to come over to your house" or the message "it's me" 50 times, I really don't appreciate it. The first time it happens, I'll assume that you don't know they've done it. By the fourth, I'd like to text back "You know, your mom mentioned that she'd really like you to put her cell phone in the toilet."
4. Invite my child to YOUR house. Don't invite your child to mine:
This one just astounds me because my elementary school-age children know better. It is not polite to invite your children to someone else's home. So, when you text me with "how about my kids come over to your house this weekend?" (I'm not kidding...I just got that text last night), you are violating several rules of etiquette and are going to get back a big HELL NO in response. And I have news for you - now I don't want to extend the invitation again EVER.
5. Talk to your kids about proper manners at someone's home:
I once had a child come over uninvited, stay all day, and then walk up to me and say, "Hey. What's for dinner?" I have since asked my children if they have ever said that to another adult and they looked at me like I had a third head. When you come to my house, you are not allowed to rummage through my pantry without permission, play in a separate room from the friend you came over to see, or generally treat my house as your own. You are a guest and if you don't know better...your parents are failing you.
6. Be clear about your intentions when asking for a play date:
Okay. I've had this happen before, too. I've had plans and a sitter has canceled or I'm running late to let my kids in the house after school. And what do I do? I call someone I trust and say, rather apologetically, "I'm so sorry, but I'm running late. Can you get my kids for a few minutes? I'll be happy to return the favor sometime." I have not, however, called another mother and said, "My son really wants to have a play date with your son!"
"Great! When would you like to set something up?"
"I'm on my way to your house right now!"
That mother ended up violating rules one, two and four when she dumped her other kid on me while she ran to the gym. Needless to say, they haven't been invited back and I don't even pick up the phone when she calls. I'm no fool - I'm not getting trapped into that again.
I used to think that it was common knowledge that if someone invited you over to their home, you returned the invitation at some point. Not so much. I have had many kids come over to my house many times and my children have never even seen the inside of their friends' homes. And while I understand that some homes may not be conducive to guests (could be remodeling or just not possible for some reason), it's quite okay for you to call and say, "We're going to the park today. Would your child like to come along?"
8. Tell me ahead of time if there could be a problem with your child:
None of us wants to think that our angels are anything less than perfect, but sometimes they are. And it's only fair to warn the receiving parent that there could be issues. The night that I had four boys over for a sleepover and one of them was a total demon...it would have been nice for his mother to give me a heads-up rather than say the next morning, "Oh, yeah. I thought that would be a problem."
9. Say "THANK YOU":
I happen to live on a block where kids are in and out of each others homes constantly. So, very rarely is a parent dropping them off or picking them up. And in many cases, there is one house in particular the kids seem to gravitate towards - the house where they eat snacks, play with toys, and generally use up resources. For the parents who don't have the common courtesy to say "thanks" every once in a while (and usually raise children who follow suit), don't be surprised when the hosting parent finally throws up her hands in frustration and says, "NO MORE!"
Everyone has their breaking point. And that last pack of cheese and crackers that your kid just took out of the pantry without asking could be it.
10. Don't be an ass:
Hey, guess what? When you consistently violate any or all of these rules, PEOPLE NOTICE. And here's a newsflash for you - when we're sitting in the bleachers watching a soccer game or waiting for a recital to start...we're usually bored and talking to other parents. So, if there is an issue with one kid or set of parents, usually everyone knows about it.
And no one wants to be the subject of that topic of conversation. That shit sticks with you until those kids are in college and they have a new set of people to annoy.