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No More Playdates At My House!

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As much as my 5-year-old son loves playdates, I am ready to throw in the towel.

woman screaming on the phone

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.

next: Levi Johnston: My All-Out Fight for Tripp
19 comments so far | Post a comment now
PlumbLucky November 11, 2009, 5:15 AM

Your comment about “wankers” has me cracking up, and well, glad you restrained yourself! I’m not sure I would have been able to.

Seriously…these neurotic mommies don’t reciprocate the playdates? To me that is inexcusable…

Rachel November 11, 2009, 7:26 AM

“The patience of Job” comes to mind. Wow. I seriously don’t know if I would’ve been able to restrain myself.

chris November 11, 2009, 7:32 AM

Okay, I agree that I don’t care for playdates and I think boys are becoming emasculated but I have to say you are one very judgemental person. There is nothing wrong with the name Henry and no I don’t have kids named Henry. Just don’t invite him over anymore and move on. Don’t be so mean against a child for the actions of their parents.

Heather November 11, 2009, 7:42 AM

Funny how people are full of critique but when they are given the chance to DO something to improve things they often take a pass (Henry’s Mom). Your point are spot on. I do like the name Henry, though;)

Anonymous November 11, 2009, 8:16 AM

why do kids have to make a date to play?

Charlotte November 11, 2009, 8:47 AM

I have gratefully weaned out the crazy, neurotic moms from my life but your post has remindedme that I am going to have start all over again when my oldest starts elementary school. Sigh…

I know a really cute Labradoodle named Henry.

Brian November 11, 2009, 8:50 AM

LOL - I agree about the coddling and emasculation. Having boys on “play dates” is emasculating too! Just let boys be boys, encourage them to play in the street, not to wear a helmet when they ride their bikes, climb some trees, skin their knees and GOD FORBID have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

Katie November 11, 2009, 9:07 AM

I agree! The other mom was just trying to act overly concerned because she was really just thrilled to have the afternoon to herself. She wanted to feel like the better mom by pointing out your kid’s faults. She should just tell her own kid to stand up for himself! I have lots of play dates at my house so I really get this.

Jen November 11, 2009, 9:23 AM

I’ve been in play date circle and all of us took turns hosting. Some moms couldn’t because they lived in small apartments, but that didn’t matter because there was always enough moms where the responsibility was spread. I think it’s notorious that these moms are not reciprocating. **sigh** I guess my whole group are hover mother’s because we attend play dates, where we can interact with other adults and help watch after the children.

Robert November 11, 2009, 9:25 AM

Excellent Post! The paradigm shift came, some 10 or 20 years ago, when “playdates” became more about moms angling for kid networking, rather than kids who actually liked each other wanting to play together.

We have a five-year-old who regularly plays with the neighbor kids who he’s grown up with. Now that he’s in kindergarten, we’re facing the world of Google Group parent class discussion sites, forced socializing and other weirdness. We say no thanks!

Anonymous November 11, 2009, 9:29 AM

boys are raised as weenies.

FYR November 11, 2009, 1:58 PM

I love the name Henry and know a very wonderful mom who named her equally wonderful son Henry.

Jake Collins November 11, 2009, 3:02 PM

Funny stuff…neurotic mothers and playdates with boys….are you living my life?

Rox November 11, 2009, 10:32 PM

Well, I think Lady Diana would disagree with you as Prince Henry seems to be a pretty gentle and kind spirit for being a Prince. :) Maybe you need to get some medication to tone down your nerves or perhaps take a swim and relax. No one can help a NAME.

jess November 12, 2009, 12:38 PM

um Rox its HARRY not Henry

Just Jayne November 19, 2009, 1:26 PM

Awww…….poor Jess…..(one says whilst pissin oneself)

Jenn June 27, 2010, 6:59 PM

Priceless!! This one made me laugh out loud.

Krystal  December 7, 2010, 4:20 PM

All i have to say is Kudos to you.
i’ve been there, done that. the situation sucks big time. Tell her that next time is at HER house. You go out and have a little YOU time. :) she can maybe uhm….oh yah - BE A MOM, sometime.

Henry February 21, 2011, 10:01 AM

Jess - actually Prince Harry’s real name is Henry - “Harry” is just his nickname. They are William and Henry, and were nicknamed Wills and Harry.

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