OK, this is my second blog post, so now it’s time to get real.
If you are reading my blog this early in, you probably already know my background, but just in case, you should know that I’m a survivor. I survived having three kids in sixteen months. They are all girls. Think about it…that was three kids in diapers and cribs at the same time, and my future holds three cases of hormones and teenage angst coming up. I am tough. I am also deserving of a break now and then.
So, I’m going to share a dirty little secret that I normally wouldn’t talk about outside of my tight circle of friends that know my favorite wine (it’s Kendall Jackson Chardonnay in case you were wondering.)
I’m a screener. Not a phone screener, but a playdate screener.
Having three kids practically the same age means my house is a constant play date, which can be good, but also bad. I spend a lot of time entertaining my kids, doing crafts, playing games, cooking, etc. And while I love this part of my life, doing these things with three kids can be challenging. And exhausting. Adding a fourth child that’s not your own actually increases the challenge exponentially (don’t ask me how that works out mathematically, but in my liberal arts mind it just does.)
So, when I am hosting someone else’s kid, that means I want a break. I want them to play…. with each other.
I know this makes me sound bad, and I want you to know that when I host someone else’s kids at my house I do make sure they are safe and sound, but that does not mean that I actually want to entertain them. It means I want to get stuff done! And it doesn’t mean I want them on the electronics either — that’s reserved for when I really need to get stuff done!
Since entering the playdate circuit about six years ago, I realized that some kids are just a little bit easier than others. You know what I mean, like when your kid has a friend over and they play quietly in their room for two hours without a peep. And they aren’t even doing anything bad. That’s playdate gold right there.
Sometimes kids are just a bit needier than others. It does not mean I don’t think your kid is sweet or that you’re not a good parent, but it may put them on our bench list for playdates.
For example, I once had a little girl over who begged my youngest daughter to help her learn how to ride a bike because her parents didn’t have time to teach her (her words, not mine.) Of course, that was a bit much to ask of my five-year old, so I spent a good 45 minutes pushing her into our yard helping her learn to “pedal, pedal, pedal!” Another time, a sweet little girl said a game wasn’t fun unless her mom played it with her. I tried to use my 15 years of professional communications experience to persuade her that I wasn’t as fun as her mom, and how independent she would be if they played on their own while I unloaded the dishwasher, but it didn’t seem to work. Three games of Candyland later, and my dishes were still drying.
I know some of you out there are thinking, “How awful of her, she is missing out on her kids.” Let me share with you now that I am primarily a stay at home mom. I have a lot, and I mean a lot of quality time with my kids. I just don’t need it all the time with someone else’s.
When my kids entered kindergarten and first grade, I got smart. I could start feeling the kids out, and started doing a proactive strike with parents of the desirables…often those independent kids with multiple siblings who weren’t used to too much attention. It was working. Each playdate got a little better [for me], and I got a little bit more time to do the things that I needed to get done. That made me want to win these kids over a bit more, and with my new-found free time, I would bake cookies, set up crafts, and yes, would even play a quick game of Just Dance on the Wii (although there is no video proof of this.) It was a win-win for all involved.
In all honesty, I have enjoyed the majority of the children we have hosted at our house, and I’m happy that so many kids find our home welcoming and fun. I want to be the house where the kids come to hang out (I am always stocked with juice boxes, yogurt drinks and chocolate chip cookies for that very reason), and I would never not include someone who my daughter wanted to play with at our home. And truth be told, I truly love to talk to other people’s kids. The stuff they say is hilarious.
But on that one Sunday when I need to get some things done around the house, we will have a forced-ranked list of who we call first.
Luckily so far, my girls seem to gravitate towards the kids that come for hours and only show their heads when they need a snack or a quick chat. Or maybe my subtle Jedi mind tricks just really are that good.