Playing with friends

30 Nov

I can’t be the only person who thinks that the term “playdate” is absolutely ridiculous.  When I was a kid, way back in the 80’s and 90’s, going to another kid’s house to play was called “going to another kid’s house to play”.  I went to Mary’s house after school.  “Hey mom, can I go over to Meaghan’s after dinner?”

After googling the phrase “history of the term playdate”, Wikipedia obviously came through with this nifty definition:

play date or playdate is an arranged appointment for children to get together for a few hours to play.[1]

Playdates have become the standard for children of many western cultures because the work schedules for busy parents, along with media warnings about leaving children unattended, prevent the kind of play that children of other generations participated in.[2] Playdates are also arranged by destinations that feature child-friendly programs like museumsparks or playgrounds.

The intention of a playdate is to give children time to interact freely in a less structured environment than other planned activities might provide.[3] Playdates are different from organized activities or scheduled sports, because they are not usually structured.

Playdates are becoming part of the vernacular of popular culture and form a part of children’s “down time.” Most parents prefer children to use these hours to form friendships by playing with other children either one-on-one or within small groups. When children are very young, most parents stay for the playdate and use the time to form their own friendships and parental alliances.[4]

The first sentence says it all.  “An arranged appointment”.  Kids are like mini business people, scheduling appointments into their parents smartphones or onto the large family calendar hanging on the fridge or bulletin board.

I have found that some parents really adhere to an unwritten playdate timing rule.  Playdates are two hours.  I have hit the jackpot and found some really flexible playdate parents.  I really like these people and have befriended a few of them.

I have two kids.  My 8 year old daughter averages about two playdates a week, one after school and one on the weekends.  When she was an infant, I got together at least weekly with my mom’s groups going for coffee, to parks, to indoor playlands, etc.  The kids became friends and we had them play with one another for socialization.  Once my daughter hit preschool, she started making her own friends and going to their houses to play with me coming along.  By JK/SK, she was playing regularly with friends at either our house or theirs.

My son is 4 and averages about 1-2 playdates a week.  He also sees his friends without me or my husband.  I remember his first time playing without me.  He was totally ready to go.  I was practically crying!

I admit that I long for the days with less advanced scheduling.  I long for the days of playing with friends and not playdates.  I can’t be the only one.  Can I?

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3 Responses to “Playing with friends”

  1. Chrissi Sepe December 30, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    I too long for the “old days” where we could just “go outside and play with our friends in the street.” Kids need empty space to just “do nothing” sometimes. Kids need room to dream.

  2. Little Wonders' Days January 13, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    The best is when you do “arrange a date to play” and the mom hands you a “mommy” business card! My husband and I were just talking about the good old days of just going out to play with neighborhood friends.

    • jexalt January 22, 2012 at 11:48 pm #

      I think those mommy business cards are hilarious in that “I hate them, but I kinda want them” sort of way! I have received family stationary from my kid’s friends. It’s really crazy with email addresses and cell phones, and allergy info!

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