My good friend Jesse (as opposed to my hubz Jesse) wrote an article for Parent Society called “I Hate Playdates” which reminded me that I had wanted to write about that topic too. Because they seriously tick me off!
I would find this tedious fad annoying enough if it didn’t actually impact me on a personal level. But unfortunately, it does. Because here’s what’s happening.
These adorable teachers barely past drinking age are so young they think play dates are the norm. They don’t realize it’s a newer, trendy thing, and that kids got on just fine before organized play was introduced to our lives.
So now these adorable teachers think that my daughter, who plays just fine on her own, thank you very much, needs more play dates. Why?
Because being content with yourself is somehow not mentally normal. You’re supposed to WANT to fit in with the other kids REALLLY bad. You’re supposed to NEED their group approval. And my daughter just wasn’t into that game. She just wanted to play with her fucking cars, you know?
In kindergarten, it was suggested she see the school counselor on a weekly basis to learn how to make friends. They were VERY SERIOUSLY concerned that she wasn’t walking up to other kids and begging to join their clicks. You’d think they could see a school shooting coming up in the next few weeks if they didn’t get her fixed NOW!
The irony? She was happy whether other kids were around or not. If others approached her, she gladly allowed them into whatever game she’d set up for herself. By the end of the school year, she finally remembered most of the names of her classmates, but still — she just wasn’t overly concerned with making friends.
Furthermore, anytime we went out together in public, kids from school would wave from across the street, or run down the sidewalk to hug her, or shout “HI” from a distance. My daughter was uber-popular, and she didn’t even give a crap because she had better things to do.
When her kinder teacher suggested play dates, I wanted to smack her. Seriously. Because I followed that up with a question I doubt she’d considered: “How do I go about setting up play dates?”
She looked at me like I’m stupid. Because obviously I must know everyone in town and have all their names and phone numbers taped to my fridge and entered on my speed dial. “Just call some parents and see if they want to get together,” she suggested helpfully.
So I pursued this, because it was so obvious she had no idea WTF my life is like. “May I have some parents’ phone numbers, please?”
She looked extremely perplexed. How on earth, she must be thinking, could it be possible that I don’t have any phone numbers for the other parents?
I saved her the trouble of asking such a delicate question. “I didn’t grow up in this town. I don’t know anybody’s phone number beyond the deli where we order pizza. I’m not friends with anyone around here. So to set up play dates, I’ll need to know how to go about getting in touch with other parents.”
No-brainer. She wasn’t allowed to help me out with that problem. Which shut her up. But I never stopped being pissed about it.
Because here’s the thing. I’m actually not bothered by having no friends in town. I am an indoors person, an introvert, a writer who is better with words that aren’t spoken.
I’m not impressed with the humans populating this planet, and the ones in this town are for the most part Republican and very Christian. So it’s not like we’d get along much, because I don’t even clean up my mouth for my Republican Christian mama.
It’s not that I shun the people of this town. It’s that I’m content and satisfied to be with myself. I don’t need approval from others to dress in the same sweatpants I wore yesterday. I don’t give a rat’s ass if wearing flip-flops with the sweatpants I wore yesterday is tacky or anti-fashion. I don’t care if I haven’t worn makeup in over a week, and my zits are highly noticeable when I pick up my daughter from the bus stop.
I’M OKAY WITH ME.
And I love that my daughter seems to be okay with HER.
So I really resent the school making my daughter feel as though she isn’t “normal” because she doesn’t make friends the same way other kids do — the majority of whom are judgmental and clicky and as snotty as their moms.
But this isn’t about my daughter and her disinterest in making a ton of friends.
This is about play dates,
and all that they imply. If you don’t have play dates regularly…
1. You are a bad parent, stifling your child’s social growth.
2. You must be too busy and selfish to put your child first.
3. You’re setting up your child for a lifetime of friendlessness.
4. You are worthless because you obviously have no local friends.
5. Neither you, nor your child, will ever fit in here.
I take that shit personally. That is a lot of stigma you’re putting on an invention that only cropped up in the last ten years or so. Of course, that list is all hogwash. But still, it bugs me that, because I don’t have friends around town upon which to call and set up play dates, I must be a piece of shit parent and, even worse, an overall piece of shit person.
Fuck you and your stupid fucking play dates, okay?
I’m not doing it. Your social bullshit can go piss up a wet rope. I’ll not be bullied by your concept of good parenting. Not when I’ve already seen signs of how your precious angels turn out. (Spoilers: They are snotty brats.)
Here are the main reasons I think play dates are ass:
1. Setting up these appointments for my daughter is teaching her that she can’t make friends on her own, and that I’m responsible for picking out whom she can or can’t play with.
2. At this point in my life, I’m not overly interested in making new friends “just because” their kid is in my kid’s class.
3. Even if I don’t have to REALLY be friends with the playdate parent, I’d still have to sit through painful conversation. I’m done with that shit. That part of my life is over.
4. I am not about purposely setting myself up for judgment. Other parents my age are very high school mentality. They want to compare shoes and purses. Not interested, thanks.
5. I’m convinced play dates are an extension of the churchy movement. After all, that’s where you make most of your local friends, right? And I don’t go to church, so there it is. I guess if I “get right with God” I will be granted those phone numbers I so desperately need in order for my child to make friends.
Now that my daughter is in second grade, she has the social thing down — much better than I ever did. But she is still just fine playing by herself. Or reading a book. Or writing a story. Or drawing a picture. And these skills are way more important than fitting in.
I can’t wait for the playdate fad to pass into history like mix-matched earrings.