As much as my 5-year-old son loves playdates, I am ready to throw in the towel.
Jennifer Ginsberg: No, it is not the fact that my house looks like a tornado tore through it after Coco leaves -- with chunks of Play-Doh ground into the carpet and sharp Lego pieces scattered everywhere, just waiting for me to step on them. It doesn't even bother me that I have to wipe Hunter's poopy tushy after he uses the potty. I never utter a complaint when Jake insists that every minuscule speck of apple peel be removed before he eats his snack.
I didn't even mind when Ella chastised me for putting peanut butter on her crackers. "My mommy said no peanut butter until I'm 10! Don't you know that peanut allergies are severe and life-threatening?" she admonished when I attempted to smear the ominous spread on her Organic Saltines.
In fact, there is no idiosyncratic preschool behavior that compares to the actions of these kids' highly neurotic and delusional mothers. While these West Los Angeles women should feel grateful to not have any real problems, they seem desperate to create all sorts of issues for their little Maddies and Aidens. And while they're happy to dump their kid at my house for two or three hours of free babysitting so they can get their forehead Botoxed or bikini line Brazilianed, they're quick to express all their "concerns" before doing so.
Most recently my son Shane had a playdate scheduled with his good friend Henry from T-ball. I should have known that any mom who would name her kid Henry (the most clichéd, unoriginal, and obnoxious name of the decade) would be trouble. Henry has been to my home several times for playdates, and while his mom has not yet reciprocated (which is common), I'm happy to have him over because the boys truly love each other and always have a great time.
So on the Monday morning before their playdate, I was surprised when I got a call from Henry's mom. "I just wanted to touch base with you about this afternoon ..." she began. What could it be, I wondered? Was the playdate conflicting with Henry's private tae kwon do lesson, or had he suddenly developed a deadly allergy to glutenous Goldfish crackers?
She continued, "Henry told me that Shane was not his friend anymore. His feelings are hurt because whenever he plays at your home, Shane gets bossy."
I felt a slight sting of shame (as most moms do) when someone criticizes their kid. I didn't want to jump to his defense too quickly, so I took a deep breath and pulled out my best psychobabble: "I have never observed this when they play. They always seem happy together. Perhaps Shane is being bossy because they're always on his turf -- maybe if the boys played at your house, Henry will feel empowered again in their relationship."
Barf bag not included with this sentiment.
She paused. "Well ... I really have to go to Malibu this afternoon for an appointment. I'm sure they will be OK at your house. Just have a talk with them beforehand about taking turns and check in on them while they are playing and make sure everyone is happy ... OK?"
Are you freaking kidding me? This woman cares enough about this "situation" to confront me about my son's behavior, but is still willing to leave her kid at my house for three hours? Furthermore, she is now dictating how I speak to the boys and demanding that I supervise them while they play???
"Listen," I said, "Henry never seems upset when he's here -- they're always laughing and having a great time. But if he doesn't want to come over or is uncomfortable, then let's cancel."
She quickly replied, "Let's not make this a bigger issue than it is -- I'm sure they'll be fine as long as you keep an eye on them."
What I wanted to say was, "You crazy, neurotic b*tch! No wonder boys are so emasculated and have no sense of self anymore -- because they have moms like YOU turning them into total wankers. How about teaching precious Henry to SPEAK UP to his friends, rather than creating false problems and coddling him emotionally? And while you're at it, how about giving him a normal name, rather than some uber-yuppified, cliché name that every other over-indulged, spoiled-brat, Westside kid has?"
I restrained myself. Barely.
|Jennifer Ginsberg is a Los Angeles mother, writer, and addiction specialist with over 15 years of experience in the fields of alcoholism, addiction, and recovery. After receiving her MSW from the USC School Of Social Work and MAJCS from Hebrew Union College, Jennifer served as the clinical director of a 120 bed drug and alcohol treatment facility. She also co-developed an addiction prevention program for Jewish youth, which has been implemented in synagogues nationally. Jennifer now works privately with people who are impacted by the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol and writes about all topics related to motherhood, addiction, and women in politics. Read more about her life at angstmom.com|