Children and Playdates- Then and Now

"Our house it has a crowd
There's always something happening
And it's usually quite loud
Our mum, she's so house-proud
Nothing ever slows her down
And a mess is not allowed"
Our House- Madness

This past Monday afternoon my son finished school and then went over to his best friend's house for a playdate. On a side note I seriously dislike that term, playdate. There is something about it that just rubs me the wrong way. I am not quite sure what it is, but I suspect that has something to do with the organized nature of play.

It is not how we did it when we were kids. Our parents didn't organize playdates for us. After school we'd play outside all afternoon long with the neighborhood kids. Or sometimes we'd walk over to their house, knock on the door and ask them if they could play.

Did I mention that we walked unaccompanied. We didn't live in fear and our parents didn't either. Times are different now for a variety of reasons.

In regard to my kids much of it has to do with their attending a private school. It is not particularly far from home by car but too far to walk or bike to. Since this is LA there is no good public transportation to rely upon. The RTD, (sorry, showing my age)er MetroLink doesn't pass their school so they can't take that either.

The end result is that we drive them to and from. I suspect that this is what happens with most of the students there. It is a great school and we all love it. But sometimes I am sorry that they miss out on some of the things that we had.

Did I mention that I grew up in a home that usually had six thousand kids running through it. My sisters and I always had friends over. It was organized chaos. That place was loud and fun.

It is hard to do here not only because of the transportation issue but because I have a home office that is not sound proof. Sometimes I feel badly about it. I don't want ten thousand children roaming through her during the day. That is not to say that we never have playdates here, but I have to be more circumspect.

During busy times it is really hard. But life is about compromise. My father worked downtown. He didn't come to soccer or baseball practices. Didn't drive my sisters to ballet or do a lot of things that I do. Not because he was uninterested but because it wasn't possible to do that and work.

He was always at the important things, never missed those, but you rarely saw him at other times. The kids teachers know me. The other parents recognize me. I am a fixture.

Push and pull, balance- I constantly am adjusting as I seek it.

Another change I have noticed is that it is not unusual for parents to hang out during playdates. That is not a terrible thing. If you are lucky you like the parents of your childrens' friends. So sometimes their playdate is one for you too. A chance to have adult conversation.

Although I should add that as the children have gotten older I have seen this happen less and less.

Who knows, maybe I am wrong about a lot of this. I sometimes wonder if the memories of the child that live insides me is true to that which really happened. Hard to say, a child's perception isn't always going to be the same as an adult's.

I wonder.

Teach Your Children- Crosby Stills and Nash


Play is Important said...

That's very honest and probably typical of many parents world wide. My Brother moved when his eldest was 11 so that a) they were near our parents and b) so the kids could walk/cycle to school. Not that the 17 yr old will cycle... but she can get the bus. And the 11 yr old is now allowed to walk round to at least 4 or 5 of her friends houses.

I wonder what the city planners are doing to plan for the massive changes that will need to happen over the next thirty to fifty years as oil becomes scarce? Will all the cities need to get denser? And public transport better? With good green corridors for bikes and walking? Hmm, lets see...

Kelly Miller said...

My mother (a single parent) was always at work until 5:30 or so, so we had a houseful of kids. My home is different because (like you), this is my office. I allow one kid and usually send them off to play rather than have them sit under me.

Minnesota Mamaleh said...

play dates are hard to get used to and once you do-- (much like all else in parenting) they change! we are just getting to the drop off stage versus stay and play. i resisted them at first but now i love them. the kids are so darn creative when there's not too many parents around to check in with, etc. last week, after not seeing the kids for about an hour they invited me to a "parade' complete with costumes and (loud!) instruments. LOVE it!

Jack Steiner said...

Hi Tregony,

Moving has been a topic of discussion for a whole host of reasons. It hasn't happened yet, but..

As for the city planners, well I hope that they are taking a hard look at the future so that they can avoid some of the problems from today.


One kid at a time isn't bad, although in my house that still raises the volume dramatically. My kids have voices that carry for miles, even when they whisper.


I like it when the kids use their brains. I love video games and understand why they want to play them. But I hate the idea of them sitting around when they could be doing more.

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