We’d go for a walk and then congregate at a Starbucks or a mall with a playspace and swap war stories as we breastfed, or shook a stroller to and fro. I got really good at maintaining eye contact during conversation while bouncing up and down and side to side with a babe strapped to me.
“I have no idea what the hell I’m doing half the time,” I confessed. They confessed the same. We were in solidarity.
Sometimes they had suggestions. “Try white noise.” or “this diaper rash goo actually works.” Those playdates meant the world to me and those moms… we were literally bosom buddies. We got each other through cradle cap. We looked out for each other. If there was a sale at Baby Gap, our group was gonna get there first, before the good stuff was gone. We thought we’d be friends forever. But then our kids grew up a little. Things changed.
If you had a bunch of friends before you were married, and some of them married total tools, you know how this story goes. It’s essentially the same story, except the tools are tinier. Babies are blank slates. They can’t be bullies. But by the time those tots turn four? All bets are off. The question is, can your friendships survive the (pun intended) wrench?
Ok so I lied a little. It’s not just the kid. If your kid is acting like a tool to me or mine and you are looking the other way, it IS you.
Some of my best friends have kids that I (and they) considering challenging at times. The point is that they don’t allow it, make excuses for it, or try to cover it up. Sometimes (yes, shockingly, it happens) my kids are the total tools too, by the way.
Real friends are able to discuss whatever it is, address the issue and move on. If the kids don’t adore each other, so be it. We have more in common than just the kids, it turns out. I have friends that I met when my daughter (now in high school) was in preschool. Our kids don’t hang so much any more. We do.
The point is this: If you can’t get past it and find yourself lingering on who’s to blame for that cookie incident? Might be time to find a new pal. Recognize any of these toxic playmates?
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Totally Toxic Playdates 1 of 14Who knew keeping friendships alive would be so challenging as our kids get older? These totally toxic kids can really challenge parents AND friendships.
The Future Queen Bee Kid 2 of 14She's a classic. This little princess has to go first. She has to push the elevator button every time or she'll pitch a fit, and we wouldn't want that. Her mom is her servant, your kid is her servant and lord help you if you ever introduce the idea of taking turns. Nothing but the best for her!
Ssssssnake! 3 of 14This trickster suckers your kid into thinking they are having a good time and then squeezes the fun right out of every playdate. They manage to get their way at everyone else's expense. You might be scratching your head wondering how that happened. How'd that brat trick you again?! Are five year olds really that manipulative? Yup.
The Ass 4 of 14The thing about this kid is that they speak confidently AND incorrectly about a multitude of subjects. They convince your kid to do stupid stuff with them. They are easily recognized by their loud guffaws and "What!? It wasn't ME!" look.
Crabbers 5 of 14Some kids are always in a bad mood. Their parents will do anything to please them. Cause you know, they are just having a bad day. Like every day. Sick of cutting slack and letting things slide all the time? Buh Bye.
The Chicken 6 of 14Similar to the crabby kid, this one needs a lot of coddling and special attention to deal with their many fears. They don't like going it alone so they will convince your kids that ghosts are real, there are sharks in the pool, there is a monster under the bed, there are murderers camping out in the woods, and every plant that they touch is poison. Seek professional help before you seek another playdate.
Catty Crews 7 of 14What we have here is a toxic group dynamic. Sometimes when moms meet up often and have much in common their kids form a cadre. It's all in good fun until someone's on the outs. If there are princes and princesses involved... Look out. Five year olds can be even meaner that teenaged mean girls. Parents that are pointedly looking the other way probably aren't the friend-for-life keepers.
Weasels 8 of 14Oh the Weasel.... so sneaky. They get in there and get what they want. Where'd that cookie go? Dunno! Munch munch munch...
The Rat 9 of 14While the Weasel is sneaky and has no self control, the Rat is calculating. The rat stockpiles and steals, sneaks and lies, and cares more about the stuff than their friends. Everything is replaceable to the Rat.
The Bully 10 of 14This one needs no explanation, right? Fear and intimidation are never the basis of a healthy lasting friendship, not at any age.
He’s Copying! 11 of 14Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but really, there's a limit. Do you find yourself a little creeped out, wondering if your "friend" really has plans to swap kids late in the night? Is your kid sick of the matchy matchy? When the other kid claims they were first, the style or item is theirs, etc, it's toxic.
That Utterly Annoying Kid 12 of 14Some kids are just annoying. Some parents are not aware their kids are annoying. That is also annoying. If you can't hang out without kids, you might not want to hang out any more.
The Hog 13 of 14This kid cannot share toys, food, space... Their first word was probably "mine" and people clapped a little too loud and long.
The Victim 14 of 14Every time your kid plays with this kid she is accused of hitting, spitting, shoving, stealing, slapping, biting, not sharing etc. Nobody else saw your kid do it. But it's AWFUL. You better discipline your child for all to see. The moment you do, the victim will perk right back up.
It was hard for me to deal with the loss of some of my “early mommy hood” friends. But much like those post college friends who ended up with jerks and sort of started morphing into the jerks they chose, my kids and I are probably better off without toxic playmates in our lives.
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