My son will turn eight in December. He is having his first play date at our place today. Part of me feels guilty about this. Should I have been more proactive in this arena? Does this make me a bad parent? He just started asking about this recently. About having someone over. In my mind, the one thing that I had to do before inviting anyone over was to purchase a new toilet seat. The old one had barely survived potty training and was just
well…kind of gross. The new seat made the bathroom seem almost new. And took away the biggest reason in my mind for no play date. I finally sent that email to invite one of my son’s classmates over. Which brings us to today.
I feel like I am not the only parent who has allowed this non-play date scheduling to occur. Part of this has to do with school. My son goes to private school so the kids that he spends his days with are not the kids that live in our neighborhood which is completely different from the way it was when I was a kid. Back then, we all went to school together. We all waited on the corner for the bus together. We rode bikes up and down our street. We spent hours in my basement. We swam in each others’ pools. It was a very different childhood. More innocent. Less scheduled. Was it better? I don’t know. I turned out OK. Most of the folks that I have found on Facebook from my old neighborhood seem have turned out OK.
My son is definitely less scheduled than many of his classmates. We kind of like it like this because we really like doing things as a family. Like the outdoor movie night we went to last weekend. We like the freedom we have. And although our son isn’t involved in organized sports, I don’t feel badly about it. I have had conversations with other parents who feel that their kid should try every sport known to man. I ask my kid. Do you want to play football? Soccer? Basketball? The answer is always no. I am trying to encourage him to take hip hop dance lessons because he does a pretty mean robot (I am not kidding). And while I appreciate the lessons that team sports have to offer, I would hate to force him into something. Why would he like it then?
Reflecting on the play date, I actually think that the reason for its demise is more related to how society has changed. When I was a kid, the moms didn’t work. They cooked and cleaned and stayed home. Most moms I know now work as much as, or more than, their spouses. Time management is a struggle and the thing that tumbles to the bottom of the list of things to do is housework. Chores that have to get done like laundry and cooking happen but things like cleaning the blinds…..that is so far down on the list. Trust me, I cleaned mine today and at one point I considered just throwing them out; they were that bad. So maybe the death of the play date is because we, as parents, feel guilty regarding the state of our homes. We don’t want to open ourselves, our lives, our living spaces up to people we don’t really know. It is too bad because maybe a messy home is a sign that we are spending time doing other very important things. Like taking our kids to the pumpkin patch or to Family Sunday at the Academy of Arts. And that my inability to clean my blinds demonstrates a strong dedication to my son. Or maybe I am just too paranoid about the entire thing. Who knows, now that the blinds are not gross and I have a new toilet seat, we will have more play dates. Now that ridiculously clean is our new norm (at least for the time being).