So, recently Damien got stood up for a play date.
I know, right?
Stood up, as in his friend was supposed to come play, and the friend just didn’t show.
As in, I made plans with this Mother of the Year type and she just never came by and didn’t bring her kid. Stood up, as in she confirmed to drop him by, but they never showed. Stood up as in, I texted her about our plans and I never heard from her again. Stood up as in, I saw her drive right by our house, as we were looking out the window waiting for her kid to come over.
And I know, that sounds insane.
Especially, if you don’t have kids.
Stood up. For a play date.
Insane. But it totally happened.
First, some background on how kids play, now.
For the most part, parents are sort of the modern gatekeepers of play for our kids.
It’s mostly activities or play dates or nothing. Everything goes through the parents.
Kids don’t so much “Go Out and Play” and meet up with one another, anymore.
Like, when I was a kid, I came home from school, changed my clothes and went outside to play. I played by myself. I would ride my bike and listen to my Walkman. I played with kids from the neighborhood. There were no play dates, at all. If none of my friends were outside I would head over to their houses, march up to their front door and knock. I’d ask if they could come out and play.
It mostly does not happen like this anymore. Kids do activities like swimming and karate and gymnastics. They play piano or do tumbling and their parents make play dates for them.
I’m not sure when things changed, but they have. I’m always aware of it, now. We had this awful cringeworthy altercation that turned explosive with our next door neighbors, when we first bought our house. There was some yelling back and forth about their obnoxious dog and a parking chair. I figured out pretty quickly how subjected to scrutiny my parenting really was, when my neighbor’s daughter told me, she could call CYS because I let my kid play outside alone, without a coat.
Child Youth Services because no coat.
And obviously this was a bullshit empty threat. And obviously if that’s something Child Services can waste their time on, then their priorities are completely fucked. But it speaks volumes about how fraught with tension the culture surrounding modern parenting is, when a seemingly normal childless woman knows she can shut you down by attacking your parenting.
Shit has changed, indeed.
On top of all that I’m constantly going around and around in my head about what an antisocial weirdo I am. I’m always worrying about how I don’t want my poor kid to suffer my same awkward fate. At one time I could handle people and all the drama and crazy that goes along with having tons of friends. But at some point my anxiety got the better of me and I decided that too many relationships outside of my bubble were more trouble than they were worth.
I’m mostly OK with this, for myself.
But because those of us with anxiety are so good at worrying, I figured if I didn’t try to get my kid a few play dates, he’d end up a loner weirdo like me. This is how I ended up making a play date with this notoriously douchey parent.
See, I sort of knew something like this might happen. My antisocial tendencies sort of led me to ignore all the red flags I kept getting in regard to this kid’s mother. Like, I honestly should have known. And I guess I sort of did.
She’s the kind of really fun girl who makes lots of plans and promises and smiles a lot and then makes out with dudes who aren’t her husband. You know the type I mean. And yet my kid loves her kid. So I made the play date. I made the play date and then I didn’t tell Damien about it. Just incase Flakey McTonsOfFun Mom blew my kid off.
And she did. And I guess I knew she might.
I know that sounds kind of impossible and completely crazy. But I guess as long as girls like her pop out kids, there will be broken play dates and dejected confused kids and pissed off mothers. The whole afternoon I kept wondering if she’d told her kid about coming over to play. And I felt kind of sad for him. Like, did he know that she blew off his afternoon of fun in favor of whatever mini-drama was going on in her exciting life at that particular moment?
And while I want to blame this mother for being a raging douche bag, I sort of blame the way we do parenting, now. I blame all the pressure on mothers and fathers to hold it all together. We have to work and keep house and juggle a million activities and we don’t have the luxury of “Go Out And Play” anymore. We’re accountable to frigging everybody. Our kids and each other and our batshit crazy neighbors, who might get mad and call Child Services on us.
And yes, I totally blame the raging douche baggery of the irresponsible shit parent that makes a date with a 6 year child and then blows that child off.
But I also blame the system, Man.
As if parenting a school age child wasn’t fucking weird enough, getting stood up for play dates is a thing, now.
You heard it here first.