After being married nearly 14 years, who'd ever thought I'd be dating again. No, I'm not out cruising for a boyfriend...I'm talking about play dates. Make no mistake, they aren't all that different...they have all the same stress and social awkwardness of "real" dating, only you don't get dinner and a movie out of it. Well, stress for me anyway...the kids could care less about the whole process, as long as they get to play.
Here's the thing...a few months back I joined a local mother's group as a desperate attempt to find new little friends for SweetPea and Lil Buddy. With my membership, I got access to online forums and was able to search for play groups in our area. The groups were formed according to age and any new moms interested in being added to a play group had to ask permission to join. This alone should have set off my "inner mommy alarm". To assume that you can throw a bunch of kids together just because they are the same age and expect it will be the perfect play situation is deluded. To expect that their MOMS will all be able to get along...even worse.
My first attempt at joining a group was an utter disaster. I'm not sure how far up my butt my head was the day I decided to sign us up for a newly formed 2-3 year old group, but I'm guessing I was running about five beers short of a six pack. In my mind I was thinking "well, SweetPea is three". What should have dawned on me was that she would be on the high end of a group that was mostly made up of "barely two" year olds. Mistake one. Mistake two was agreeing to host the group's second meeting, especially since I'd missed the first one. The day we were set to host, only one of the five moms in the group showed up...and only one called ahead of time to say her daughter was too sick to come. So there I was with a kitchen full of snacks (I was told I was expected to serve refreshments), alone with one mom and her little boy who wasn't quite yet two and couldn't really talk. Solo Mom was nice enough, but I'd be willing to bet this lady had some sort of adult ADD...or maybe was just a spaz... who talked a mile a minute and couldn't talk about one topic for longer than maybe two seconds. Poor SweetPea did her best to engage the her new friend in play and conversation, but all he wanted to do was throw her toys all over the floor...which might I add his hyper mom never offered to help pick up. An hour and a half later they were gone, my house was a mess and I had a headache. Blind play date one...a bust.
No sooner was Solo Mom gone and I was back online trying to sign us up for a new group. This time I had the sense to go looking for a three to four year old group. Lucky me...a brand new group was forming, so we got a second chance. Our first group meeting was held at a public place, which meant I didn't have to worry about my house being trashed! This time all six (or was it seven?) moms showed, which ended up being an even more uncomfortable experience, since I'm very shy around big groups of people I don't know and I had the distinct feeling that I was being sized up by the other moms. For the most part, the moms ended up being pretty nice, but after one meeting, a couple of moms decided not to come back. I'm not sure we ever found out why. As for the "new friends" for SweetPea, almost all of them were a hit...almost. There was one little girl who was...well...a heinous little snot. Let's just call her Punk Kid. Punk Kid's mom seemed friendly, but also had zero control over her child. When SweetPea approached Punk Kid to say hello and see what she was doing, she promptly shoved her, grabbed the dinosaurs she was playing with and yelled "MINE!"...and mom...did nothing. As the play group continued to meet, Punk Kid's behavior only got worse. At one trip to a local park, Punk Kid sat at the top of the slide all of the kids were playing on and refused to slide down. When SweetPea climbed up behind her, patiently waiting to slide, Punk Kid yelled at her to go down another slide...which happened to be completely covered in bird doo. Of course, SweetPea told her "no thank you, there's bird poopy on that one" and continued to wait quietly. Where was mom in all of this? She was standing there watching the whole exchange and doing nothing. It wasn't long after that day that Punk Kid and her mom stopped showing up for play group. I don't know if she finally figured out that her kid was too much of a brat to play nicely with other kids or if she just decided we weren't interesting enough to keep meeting with, but thankfully, they went away. Eventually we whittled down to a small group of nice moms and kids who all got along...but sadly, summer came, one mom got really busy, one mom had a new baby AND got relocated outside of Texas and one mom kind of just disappeared...so we're back to being play groupless.
I've finally given up on the whole play date/play group/mom group thing. I was never all that good at dating anyway. Instead, I crunched the family budget and found a little spare money to enroll both kids in part time school again where they can find new friends on their own!