Do You Let Your Child Go On A Play Date Without You?Christine Coppa
JD went on a big boy play-date this weekend. Usually I hang around for play-dates. This is partly because I want to hang out with my friend (maybe have *a glass of wine if it’s nearly 4 PM) while JD and her child play, and partially because I am freaked out about leaving him at someone’s home.
Lately, JD has been asking to have play-dates with his school friends. This is pretty rational since he spends the majority of his days with them. The only problem is that I don’t really KNOW-know their parents. They are the moms and dads I see in the morning when I’m running through the door and then again later when it’s approaching 6 PM. Hi, bye, how are you … cute shoes is the extent of our chit-chat.
So, when JD’s teacher emailed me if it was OK to give *Tim’s mom my email because she wanted to schedule a play-date, I gave her the green light. Tim and JD have been in school for years. Tim lives in the neighborhood where I grew up. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if his mom, *Jill and I crossed bikes or sidewalk chalk as kids. They currently live in the house she grew up in. They bought it from her parents.
Jill is married. Has a son who is in grade school and a “little dog.” The email explained the “little dog.” Jill wondered if JD would be scared or allergic. We have a little crazy dog named Max, so I assured her he’d be fine and excited to meet their furry family member. I scheduled the play-date without reservation. As much as I can’t call Jill my BFF I knew my son would be safe in her care.
When I told JD he was SO excited. “I love Tim!” he squealed. “I just can’t wait!”
Life pressed on. Work, school, homework—the ins and outs of our little twosome of a family.
On Friday night I lured JD to bed extra early because, “You need your rest for your big play date with Tim!” He jumped into bed. I cuddled up next to him with a book.
“You are such a big boy. I can’t believe you’re old enough to go on a play-date without mommy,” I said rubbing my nose to his.
“What do you mean?” JD said.
OK, never underestimate your kids. If you don’t spell it out from day one, they are going to assume this play-date is like any other. I will sit on the couch and chat with the mom, bounce the infant or join in on the hiding and seeking.
“But I don’t know that family,” he said. “I’m gonna be scared. I’m gonna miss you. What if I have to pee?”
“You know Tim! He’s your best buddy at school. And you know his mom, the lady with the prettiest green eyes that always says hi to you. He has an older brother, *Joe and a daddy that you’ve met at school functions. And guess what? They have a little dog just like us!”
“Really?” he said.
“Yep!” I said.
“What color?” he asked.
“You’ll have to tell me,” I said. “You’ll be like a Private Eye. And about peeing. Dude, just ask Tim where the bathroom is. You pee at school and home all the time without my help. Tomorrow is going to be an awesome exciting day. And next time, Tim will come to our condo.”
“Tim lives in a big house, mommy,” JD said. “He told me.”
“Cool! We live in a condo that is the perfect size for our family and have a cool swimming pool. Why don’t we invite Tim over for a dip, one day in the summer?” I suggested.
“Cool!” he said.
“Just like people have different families, they have different homes too. I have friends that live in one room with a bed, fridge and TV. It’s called a fancy studio apartment in glorious New York City!”
The next day my dad gave JD a lift to his play-date because I had my cousin’s wedding shower. I gave my dad Jill’s number and address. I had already texted Jill my dad’s info.
JD showed no anxiety or fear. I could barely kiss him goodbye. They stopped at the Italian bakery down the street from Tim’s and brought over sprinkle cookies.
I texted Jill once between *sips of yummy sangria and silly wedding shower games. They were having so much fun the play-date was extended by an hour.
I couldn’t wait to hear all about it. “Tim’s dog is little, brown and white. Can I get a bug catcher like Tim? Tim’s mom is nice and pretty. She played hide-and-seek with us and Tim always knew where she was hiding. We had a mixture of pretzels and crackers and cookies for snack. We watched a show about a lizard. Tim has the same blankets on his bed that I do. …” And it went on.
I’m glad I chilled out, trusted my gut and let my son go on a play-date without me. We can’t wait to have Tim over.
How old were your kids when they went on a play-date sans you? Do you have anxiety or stress about it? Please share.
Please share your tips and tricks, too.
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*One glass of wine over a long play-date that ends with dinner.
*I had a designated driver.
Don’t Drink & Drive.