Friday, March 23

The play date disaster...

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

Ok...I've been a school mum for a little over six weeks.  I feel very new, out of my depth and a little intimidated by all the experienced school mum's out there that "know what's going on".

So the other day, another mum from the same class and approached me and asked if we could organise a play date as her son seems to talk a lot about my son.  Yep, easy done.  We swapped mobile numbers and set aside a play date at the park one day after school.

That day arrived and I got a text message from said mother that it was too windy* to go to the park and she invited us to her house and she offered to pick up my son at school.  This was my first warning.  I replied casually that change of venue was fine, but that I would pick up my own child from school since he has most likely never clapped eyes on you... (thankyou very much!)

Once I got to school this was a little how the conversation went;

Her "Ok, so my husband is at home with a head-ache, so I'm not so sure about our play date"
Me: "Oh ok, we could always just head to the park like we planned?"
Her: "Oh I think it's too windy* - a branch might fall on us!"
Me: "Ok..."
Her: "I wonder if there is somewhere else we can go?"
Me: (sigh) "Well, why don't we just go to my house?"
Her:  Eyes light up! "Ok then, I'll drop Jerry** off for about an hour?"
Me:  "Excuse me?  Drop him off?  Don't you think that he might feel a bit unsure, seeing as your son doesn't know me or even been to my house before?"
Her:   She looks down at her son - "You wont mind, will you Jerry? (he gives a little shake)....See he'll be you look like an OK kind of person!"

(Ok!  I look Ok?!!  I'll give you ok!) I think internally!

Given she drove and I walked, I was able to go over this conversation for a few moments as I paced the pavement.  To be honest, I felt like I'd been railroaded.  Did I just consent to babysitting her child (whom I know nothing about) without so much as an option of refusing?  My mind started racing as I could see myself feeding this child dinner, bathing him, and reading bedtime stories.

I resolved to tell her, that I would feel much more comfortable if she actually stayed during her son's time in my house!  She was waiting for me when I arrived and as I approached she made to farewell her child at the gate.  I stood, shoulders square and offered that she come inside for a cup of tea and and that really it would be a good idea if she stayed.  Luckily she accepted without need for re-enforcing the issue.  But.... I felt at a loss as to how this was going to pan out.  I made a lame excuse that I had to be somewhere soon, so the play date was cut shorter.

Did I over-react about her offer to 'drop off' her son at mine?

Has some-one you didn't know very well dropped their kid at your door? And how did you react?

Is this usual school play date policy now our kids are getting older or am I well within my rights to want to suss people out first and get to know them before looking after their kids?

*windy?  slight breeze my book....perfect park weather!!! 
** The child's name has been changed to protect his more identity....thing is, he appears to be a sweet little kid! 


  1. Oh Bren! This is hilarious... and not in a good way! I am totally with you on this - no way, no how are my kids allowed at someone elses house without my first being there to suss it all out myself. And most defiantely not in anyone elses car unless I know them extraordinarily well! I think you handled the whole thing really well, especially making her stay for a cup of tea and cutting things short. The poor kid might have been perfectly fine, and she probably just wanted to run to supermarket for a quickie grocery trip, but still... not on! And too windy for the park! My kids would insist on a park visit in hurricane conditions!!!!

  2. I totally agree with you on this one. I wouldn't let my child go to a strangers home either. She sounds a little loopy to me. It's very difficult getting to know the other mothers and it takes time to build new friendships at the school gate but I figure that in a few months the other mothers will give you the head up on this woman. You've probably had a lucky escape. Well done for your quick thinking, Sally xx

  3. Hi Brenda,
    Not sure what to think here. She could be that sort of malevolent 'user' mum that stalks every playground...definitely will be interesting for you to observe her to see if your first instinct is correct as the year progresses.
    However, she could just be a relaxed sort of person (interested to know if this is her oldest child or a younger sibling???).
    I can see that you're feeling your way so honestly hope that you find some 'like-minded' mothers that you can hang with.
    My experience is that play-dates are different at big school and that there is no assumtion that the mummy of the other child comes over as well.
    One way you can suss her out is to suggest a reciprocal play date next week where she gets the kids...if you drop your own son off then you take her driving skills out of the equation :) If she delays/balks at this then you can rightly tag her as a 'user'!!!
    Good for you for being assertive :))

  4. Oh. My. Gosh.

    That IS the playdate from hell.

    I can't believe she didn't get a kite out and enjoy that beautiful windy weather!

    Although I'm going to call it as it is: She had NO intention of doing coffee. She thought she was going to be lumped with both kids and didn't want it. She doesn't give a stuff who looks after her kid as long as she gets a break.

    Too judgy perhaps?

    But your response was completely normal and natural. I'm so glad you asserted yourself and set some boundaries. After all, I wouldn't leave my child with someone I didn't know either!!! So, I wouldn't expect someone to leave their child with me, no matter how 'okay' I looked!

    Well done Bren! (And I sure hope that our playdate in a week or two won't be anything like that!)


  5. It's a pretty awful situation to be put in but as Lib mentioned, big school seems to have it's own set of rules and I find it more common here in Australia. We have always made an effort to acquaint ourselves with our children's friends parents first and have to know them pretty well before we feel comfortable enough to either leave our child with them or have their's over unaccompanied. It horrifies me still that some parents can be so blasé but I think you handled the sitution beautifully. Just be wary of parents like this as in my experience they just want someone they can pawn their child off to. There are also some amazing friendships to be made through your children too, some of my closest friends were found in the school yard :)

  6. It gets even harder as they get older because you don't even get to know the Mums anymore like you do with the preppies. Parents hang around to drop off and pick up the preps, but as they get older it doesn't happen as often and your kids beg for playdates and it is no longer the done thing for Mum to come too.... So far I've managed to change the conversation when asked, but it can get tricky. What's the norm? Maybe we should put that one to Maxabella's new forum?

  7. that would of freaked me out - steer clear girlfriend !!

  8. Run, run as fast as you can!! x

  9. How strange... apart from anything else making sure your child is ok in the new environment is also important.

    I think you handled this like a star!

  10. That's funny Brenda. I kind of had the opposite situation. Cam really wanted a girl to play and I didn't know her mother. So I walked up to the mother and asked would she be happy for me to take her daughter home one afternoon the following week. She had no problem (daughter is the youngest of 5) but for the next week I made sure I spoke with the mum each day so she could get to know me, because I kept asking myself would I let Cam go with someone I didn't know??

  11. Hi, While I can't comment on the weather factor and whether it was a ligitimate reason for not going to the park, if her child has older siblings remember she has already been down this path before and has probably been sussing you out for a while to see what she though of you, her child would also be quite comfortable going to other peoples houses with out her. I have 3 kids and while I always feel there safety if paramount, you do get used to your kids going places without out you and it's amazing how much research you can do on someone through a school community without them knowing, I say give her another go xxBrenda


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