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Play Dates

I may be Chinese, but I am not a Tiger Mom.
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I’m a fan of organic, recycling and make-up free days, but am not a free range mother either. I think I’m a play date mom. Yet, when it comes to play dates, I am a bit conflicted.

I grew up in Bountiful, UT. My parents were immigrants. I am a first generation girl who had a tough ride in elementary, middle, and parts of high school too. Hey, it made me stronger, and it formed who I am. I kind of dig who I am now. That sounds weird, doesn’t it?

In my nostalgic youth, I didn’t really have organized play dates growing up. I remember a handful of them. Even after I was old enough to walk to a friend’s home, my mom wasn’t a fan of me going off elsewhere. In Utah, there were kids everywhere in our circle, so we’d just run out and spend all day exploring and playing during the summers. It was fantastic. Once we moved to California, while I was in middle school, and high school my mom’s common refrain was, “Weren’t you in school together today? Why do you need to do this ‘hang-out’ business?”

As for how I mother, when the girls were younger, they had play dates that were easy, and they didn’t run all over the house and make messes. Now that they’re older, it’s like they’re balls of frenetic energy, on one simple mission: create absolute chaos.

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Guess what? I love play dates. I love how excited they get. I like that their friends love coming to our home. I let my girls have girls over, and boys over. I secretly hope that they’ll want to come hang at our home when they’ve turned into “too cool” teenagers. I’m hoping that if their friends know food is available, they’ll hang out here with my ever watchful eye, and exceptional eavesdropping skills.

Here’s the conflict. Play dates require me to get organized. In my neck of the woods I have to schedule them, or they don’t get done. We’re all busy, we have homework, extracurricular activities, family time, creative time, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it for my girls. Play dates are two-fold, the kids get to play, and one of the moms gets a break. It’s a win-win, except when it’s a win-lose. You know. When you do all the inviting, and some don’t invite back?

How does it work if I’ve had a friend my daughter loves to play with over at my home numerous times, and my daughter eagerly awaits an invitation to that friend’s house, that never arrives? I’ve been pretty lucky to have a few friends that are very reciprocal. But, what happens when your child has invited a friend over and over and asks you why that friend never invites them over? What do you say? What do you do? How do you handle my conflicted play dates conundrum?

I have been known to invite once, and wait. I wait to see if my child asks to play with that child again, or wait for that parent to invite mine over. When it’s a draw – as in neither thing happens, I move on. You? Is there such a thing as play date etiquette? Such as, if you have no intention of inviting my kid over, don’t send red rover over?

I am eagerly awaiting your wisdom.



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