- December 4, 2013
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I love first playdates and love getting to know new families. So, I try to mix it up every once in a while for my kids by inviting children who are new to our school or new to our neighborhood. For the most part, it’s been a positive experience for my children and I. However, every once in a while you have one of those playdates from hell that you just can’t wait to end. Though now when I look back at them they are pretty funny. I certainly didn’t think so at the time. With the help of my children (all four of them), I’ve listed our top ten worst experiences in descending order.
10. Show off Kid – One of my favorite experiences (NOT) was with this boy named Elton, who at the ripe age 10 claimed to have everything. Any game we had or any activity that my kids wanted to play simply didn’t live up to his expectations. Nothing impressed him and his attitude was such a downer. Any board game my children suggested, he had a better version of it at his house. Just an uppity “one-upper” type of kid. Needless to say my kids don’t like to feel inferior anywhere, much less in their own home.
9. Hated Pets – This one was pretty rough as this new 11 year-old, named Amanda, who lived up the block from us had an extreme fear of dogs and supposedly of all four legged furry animals. Though she was not at ‘fault’ it made for a very challenging playdate in our home. We don’t love locking our pets up in a room while dinner guests are over, but we do it fairly routinely. This little girl could not stop freaking out about the dog being in the house and kept talking about how she feared that our dog would get loose and jump on her. Poor thing! The entire two hours focused on calming her fears.
8. Nothing to Eat – This was a playdate that my 12 year old daughter described to me just a few weeks ago. She was at a girl’s house that was new to our school. The playdate started at around ten on a Sunday morning and pickup was at 1:30pm. According to my daughter, the girl and her mom never offered her a drink or any snack the entire time. Even water! Finally after two hours my daughter was thirsty and asked if she could have a drink. “We can go look to see if we have something,” her friend said. That in itself seemed strange to me. She allegedly opened the fridge and kept pointing to juices and other drinks, which she said were being saved for her siblings. Then she pointed to some snacks, which she did not offer because those too were being “saved” for other family members. Just weird, but my daughter played it safe and asked for water. Very bizarre and maybe they were dealing with image problems or eating disorders? Who know? But not offering a drink or minimal snack to guests seems rather extreme.
7. Running Errands – Need I say more? The entire playdate, my son described running from one department store to another, as the mother ran around doing her errands. I know we all have things that need to get done, but c’mon. I can do that with my kids but if you’re going to commit to hosting a playdate, at least try to make it fun. My son said that he tried to make the best of it by playing card games but kept getting car sick along with constant interruptions as the kids were ushered in and out of the car from one store to the next.
6. Doesn’t Clean Up – I remember when Aaron, who was 9 at the time, came over and it just drove me crazy. I like to let people feel at home and so I allow guests to use what they want on their own. Boy did I regret that rule during this playdate! Aaron came from a pretty affluent and indulgent home — and it showed. He must have gone through seven or eight different cups. He would fill one to the top, take a sip and then just leave it wherever he felt. In our house we usually put our names on a disposable cup and use it throughout the day. That helps us save resources and prevents excessive dishwashing. Aaron did the same with the games. He’d pull them out, open them up and then just leave them lying around. I’m not sure what he’s used to but in our house that doesn’t fly! I tried gently to encourage him to help clean up but that didn’t work. So, I had to get tough, which is a total downer, but I had to lay down the rules. One game and one cup at a time! When you’re done with it you clean up or nothing else comes out (except this evil witch, of course)!
5. Tearing up the House and Yard – My kids are pretty active and love to run around. Our house is far from a museum piece and gets quite used. I hate homes that are covered in plastic, where you worry about touching anything. But when little Jonny (an eight year-old boy) came over and stuffed our toilet with mounds of toilet paper, then dug up the backyard, and topped it all off by throwing rocks at our neighbor’s cat, I had just about enough. You want to let kids be free and have fun but certainly not to the point where they are destructive.
4. Kid is Sick – When Jennifer (11 years-old) was dropped off at our house by her mom, who never walked her in and simply called the house to let us know she was in a rush to an appointment, I should have known something was up. Jennifer was coughing non-stop, had a runny nose and swollen red eyes. Probably pink eye for all I know. I was concerned and made some tea for her as we sat down to play some board games to try to make the best of it. But she kept coughing, blowing her nose and was visibly uncomfortable. I took her temperature and it turned out she had a 102 degrees fever. I tried calling her mother to have her picked up but, of course, she did not answer the phone. She stayed the entire two hours of the playdate– I ended up putting her in bed and she fell asleep. I was okay with all that but wish her mom would been more considerate. Fortunately, none of us got sick but I didn’t appreciate putting my family at risk or being a last resort babysitting service.
3. On their Electronic Device the Entire Time – This one was one of the worst ones for me as I could tell that my kids felt neglected or perhaps like maybe they were being dull and boring. This was a double playdate, in which two siblings came over to play with my two boys ages seven and ten. Each came equipped with their very-own iPhone. They stayed glued to their screens the entire time – watching movies and playing games. Every game my kids suggested was shot down. They could have just stayed home and entertained themselves. Luckily my kids are self-assured and didn’t have their little egos crushed by being ignored. I understand the mother wanted her kids to get out and socialize with other children their age but next time, please leave the devices at home!
2. Lying and Stealing – Usually we try to get to know other families a little before setting up a playdate. However, on this occasion we didn’t have that luxury. Little Ethan, who was nine at the time was a tough little kid who had some discipline problems in school. He seemed a little rough around the edges but I’d hoped my kids would help him mellow out a little. Then about 20 minutes into the playdate, I went to check up on the boys because it seemed a little quiet. I caught little Ethan snooping around my bedroom (I’d intentionally closed the door before the playdate had begun). My son had gone to the restroom so Ethan was in there alone looking around. He said he got lost looking for my son but that wouldn’t explain why he was going through the drawers of my dresser. Unfortunately, after he left, I realized that one of my bracelets was missing — his mom promptly returned it the next day. After this experience our son jokingly suggested that in the future we frisk search of all our guests when they leave our house. NOT funny and NOT cool!
1. Bully Kid – This one took the cake and was torture for me as well as my kids. When Natalie came over she seemed like a confident 10 year-old who was just very assertive. My kids love sports and both the boys and girls can hold their own. However, Natalie immediately began to boss my daughter (who’s the same age) around telling her to get this and get that for her. At first it seemed sort of comical but then we realized that she wasn’t joking at all and was demanding to the point where she becoming aggressive. My daughter tried to be nice at first until she realized that she was just being nasty and taking advantage of her. I overheard her telling my daughter how strong she was and how she would “kick her ***” in a fight. My daughter tried to deflect this and redirected toward some fun activity. But she wasn’t having any of that and pushed my daughter, trying to provoke her to engage. My daughter had enough and came to tell me what was happening, for which I was thankful. Yes, fights may occur sometimes even with adults, and people do have disagreements but hopefully they can work it out rationally on their own. However, when one is clearly the aggressor and a bully, then that should not be tolerated and someone has to intervene. Needless to say it didn’t last the entire two hours and the playdate was halted only after 30 minutes, as her parents were called to pick up their little gem.
Of course, now I can look back at some of these experiences and recognize that most of these kids in the scenarios described above probably had some problems at home or were simply compensating for insecurities. I’ve even explain to my children that we should try to help these children get better and be understanding of where they are coming from. But after all, these scenarios were for playdates (see our Playdate Tips) not work dates! So, be safe with first playdates and try to keep them short. One to two hours at the most. My kids now have a sign they can give me to let me know that the playdate isn’t working out. I’m always looking forward to meeting and learning from new people, as long as it doesn’t compromise the safety and sanity of my family!
Filed in: Parents