Middle Class Problems: Playdates should be easy ... but they never are

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The Independent Online

Playdates seem such an easy concept: your child plays with their child during classroom hours, so why not cement the friendship in the comfort of one of the small people's homes? But easy it never is.

First up comes the mother who arrives and within 10 minutes bemoans our property's lack of period features. Then there's the playdate with shy, sensitive little M that has to be terminated abruptly when our superhero-obsessed little one puts on his Hulk suit and starts chasing him around the room, shouting "SMASH!" at regular intervals.

"I'm not sure this is going too well," says M's hippie-ish mum, shaking, as she runs for the front door. "Let's try again soon." We still await our return invitation.

There are the parents who arrange playdates at precisely the time their kid needs feeding and then mention casually that their sister(s)/brother(s) will be coming along too, so you end up overcooking pasta for a small army. And there are the parents who tell you how much X loves playing with Y but seem oblivious to the notion that they might offer to turn their own homes into a toy pit once in a while.

None of which is to mention the fact that while the kids are playing, you are expected to form bonds with people with whom the only thing you have in common is the age of your children. "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future," someone clever once said about children. What they should have said, of course, is, "Show me your friends' parents before we go arranging any playdates."

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