Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Playdates and Accounting


The pleas from children to have playdates start as soon as the bell rings after school.  Sometimes kids are dying to continue some game they started at lunchtime.  Sometimes, the kids just don't want to be alone.

"May I have a playdate with Jessica" "She has dance today."
"With Katie?" "Her Mom isn't here"
"With Anna?" "She is coughing too much."
"With Jillian?" "I don't think she is even here today."
"With .... that girl over there in the red sweater?" "Not if you don't even know her name."

When we started the whole scenario with Jackson, we found ourselves right in the bermuda triangle of playdates.  Since that time, I have learned and readily accepted, that Jackson doesn't really need or want many playdates.  He does not need a variety of personalities to rotate through our home.  He likes to be on his own, playing with his sister and or thinking of ways to get out of doing spelling homework.

For a while kids would ask HIM for playdates and he would say to me after school "Joe wants to come over for a playdate." It was never "I want Joe to come over for a playdate."  So we just mostly quit having playdates for him.

Admittedly, Jackson does have built in playdates with a pair of brothers as their Mom and I share childcare - we each take each other's kids one after school a week.  That suits the J Boy as he seems to have plenty to do with said brothers, most of which involves coveting their video game collections.

Social Sydney, on the other hand, is much more inclined toward playdates.  To be honest, with my work schedule and her activities, the days the planets align for playdates have been few. Plus I have had this peculiar habit of wanting to arrange these things ahead of time.

But this year, we have hit our playdate stride.  Sydney is going on plenty. I am glad she has a wide group of friends.  I am also glad that she is now able to have a playdate without being hyper and silly the entire time.  And that her playdate manners are up to scratch and she will thank her playmate for either coming over or for having her -- often, mind you, with some prompting.

My problem with playdate accounting happened because I had ruled out Wednesdays as a possible playdate as I have the brothers here. But then I realized Sydney does not engage in the same indepth discussion about Mario Brothers and MarioKart so she often would watch TV or complain that I wouldn't let her watch TV, so I figured letting her go on a playdate was an okay thing.

The only day we would have playdates at our house was Friday and some people weren't available Friday.  So Sydney was asked for dates and often went on Wednesdays to her friends' houses. I thought I was going to have to quit my job to EVER catch up on our playdate I.O.U.'s.

And that is how we got ourselves into a serious playdate deficit.  I pretty much have a spreadsheet going in my head and I know when we are owed playdates or when we owe them. I am seriously thinking of creating a playdate tracking app that could be loaded onto smart phones. You know, for the hip Moms who don't rely on imaginary spreadsheets.

But then I realized on Wednesdays, when I have the surplus of Y chromosomes, I could easily have an extra girl over for Sydney and pretty much not notice.  It is a little frantic rounding up all 5 kids from the far corners of the schoolyard and ushering them to the van, but once I sort out the mutually exclusive snack and drink preferences, it's pretty much clean sailing.

Until I look around the house after they leave.  There are Barbie clothes and accessories blanketing the playroom. The snack debris is legendary especially when the boys sneak their goldfish crackers in front of the Wii. We all know how neat 7 and 8 years old boys are about eating in front of the TV. And how they like to clean up after themselves.

But Sydney is acquiring social skills, and solidifying her friendships. And I get to practice math in my head.  Which apparently, I need to do.

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