“Sophia’s coming over today!”
“Sophia, my friend. You know. At 3:00. We’re going to play with the Legos and my train and the dog and play princesses!”
This conversation, or one that includes two or three other friends or visiting someone else’s house, has become an almost daily occurrence. Apparently, the 3 and 4 year olds at Axel’s school are making lots of play dates – or at least my son’s making them. Who’s coming over to visit who must be a popular topic on the playground, right after the best pirate names and exactly how pixie dust works.
When I explain to Axel that playdates have to be cleared with parents first, Axel disagrees.
“I know Sophia’s mom. I can ask her! You don’t have to ask her.”
“Actually, I do, because we’re the adults, and you can’t drive yet.”
This one temporarily stumps Axel, until he comes back with: “I can take my bike!”
His bike, to Sophia’s house – a house none of us has ever visited, a house for which we don’t even have an address.
My next suggestion – that we wait to be invited over to other people’s houses – was also squashed.
“I can visit my friends’ houses! They’re my friends. That means I can visit. That’s what friends do!”
Good point. But, since Axel is the sort of person who says things like, “I have a lot of friends. I don’t know their names,” this isn’t exactly my philosophy about socializing. I think it’s a good idea to know people’s names before visiting their houses, not to mention their addresses. Axel would just as soon go through the city, knocking on door after door, until he stumbled on a welcoming place with another kid betweem the ages of 2 and 6 and a good selection of hats and a seesaw.
I have followed all of this child-initiated playdate scheduling with a few adult initiated playdates – and I’ve got to give the kid credit for his outgoing, independent spirit – but I’m also a little overwhelmed by the number of requests. This marks the transition between the parent-led playdates, the ones with people I know who have children of a similar age, to the kid-led ones, in which the involvement of the parents is an afterthought or, according to my three year old, totally unnecessary.
I’ve got a feeling that, before I know it, I’m going to find strange children sprinting through my house and digging into the graham crackers and staying for dinner after Axel’s invitation, or come home to discover he’s gone visiting. I just hope he leaves a note.