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The Playdate Conundrum

May 29, 2017 - Jen Zbozny
I have a playdate conundrum. Much to my supreme shock, I am not always me daughter's favorite first choice of playmate anymore. We need to plan to talk about that subject in greater detail at a later time, but its relevant here. Since Eve has progressed to the age where she loves to have pals to play with (that means I've done something right, right?) she and I have to work together to arrange them.

That is not the problem. I'm beyond grateful to tell you that Eve has great bunch of children as her local clan. She's lucky to swim in a sea of super nice boys and girls who know how to have fun, manage themselves with minimal friction, and whom Eve genuinely seems to enjoy.

So that's step one. Let your kid find friends. Teach them what they need to know to be able to make a friend and how to be a good friend.

Step two. Check in to make sure the friends are appropriate in whatever ways make sense. For instance if Eve's best friend were suddenly a 9th grade boy (Eve is just finishing 3rd grade),that would give me pause.

Step three. Help arrange opportunities for them to goof off. Arrange play dates, as it were. Eve's not old enough for her own phone or social media, so I help. I don't mind that at all.

Here's the conundrum. I may know that Eve will be around on a Saturday afternoon, say. I know that Eve wants to play with someone. I have time in the middle of my busy Tuesday to send a text or make a call to set up a play date. What I don't always know is what may or may not have changed in Eve's social cosmology today.

What that means is even though all her pals are good kids, I have no way of knowing whether some lunchtime drama has just occurred and I've just made some unknowing blunder or awkward situation for Eve. And I can't ask Eve about it at noon on Tuesday because Eve is in school.

Yes, I know, dear readers, the right thing to do is ask Eve about it Tuesday morning before she leaves for school. But sometimes between having to digest the storyline of Eve's latest book idea (she has at least 8 ideas per day. It's fantastic but it's hard to keep track of when I'm fixing breakfast and making lunches and trying to be on time) and get us out the door, I forget.

I know there are some parents that just schedule play dates with whoever pops into their mind without checking in with their child first. Is it just that I'm painfully socially conscientious that I find that idea to be a conundrum?

And yes, dear readers, we could indeed spend at least a four part series in this blog about social awareness and how it consumes me when people do things that are socially icky. Like inviting all your husband's distant cousins (that she has met once) to your daughter in-law's baby-shower that was supposed to be small and intimate with close friends. The internet is full of those stories and I never want to be that person.

So, dear readers, what's the right chord to strike? Take the chance of asking too late and not being able to schedule something, but being sure I've checked in? Or just schedule something however, and assume it will work out?

P.S. Thank you for helping me work this out! I was one of those kids who was blessed to grow up with 2 dozen kids in the neighborhood. We just went out the back door in the mornings in summer and weekends and sorted it out ourselves!!!


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