Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rule of Life #343: A play date is a fine time to showcase one's skills

Martha's best friend
As I type this Martha is enjoying what will most likely end up being one of maybe three “play dates” she has for the year, because, as you well know, I am not a fan of the play date. OK, the play date itself is fine, I don’t have to be quite so bitchy about it; it’s the arranging of the play date that I find so cumbersome and, therefore, rarely do it unless pressured into it by my relentless child. Today, as soon as she leapt off the bus, she asked if a boy from school could come over to play. Uh… well, um... okay, sure, I stutter. (The anxiety is closing in on me already as I anticipate the demands that will be put upon my social abilities just making a simple phone call).

But actually Martha makes the call, which temporarily relieves me of my parental responsibility. I soon realize my intervention will be necessary as Martha has initiated the phone conversation with “so, do you want us to come pick you up or do you want to drive over?” without even so much as a hello. I speak with the friend’s mom, who is super nice and just as amused by the kids’ conversation as I am. A time is agreed upon, driving arrangements made. The play date is on.

Now the kids are in our basement doing what passes for “playing.” I love the idea of playing, how vague and undefined it can be, how it doesn’t have to mean anything specific and, in fact, it’s usually best if specific activities are not agreed upon beforehand so as to avoid any unnecessary restrictions. I remember when I reached high school and the “new” invitation had to be “do you want to do something?” instead of “do you want to play?” because obviously a 15-year old is way too old to “play.” (What I wouldn’t give to just play right now, screw my age.) Martha’s version of playing consists of a long series of questions that all seem to begin with “Do you want to watch me...?” as in, does the friend want to watch her play piano, play violin, play Beatles Rock Band, play Nintendogs, jump rope, feed her stuffed animals, etc. Someone stop me before I holler at her “ASK HIM WHAT HE WANTS TO DO, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!” (At present, Martha is singing ‘I want to hold your hand’ on Beatles Rock Band. I don’t know if the friend is playing an instrument, or simply acting the part of Martha’s groupie.)

He is very adept at asking questions I see. He is asking about her best friends and she is regaling him with stories about her best friend, Olivia, who is an imaginary friend and also a pig and also on a tv show that was adapted from the popular children’s books by Ian Falconer. He asks if he is her best friend. Yes! She answers enthusiastically. My heart is melting.

“Are you hungry?” he asks. “No,” she answers. “Neither am I.” Man, you can’t beat that subtlety.

I am actually really pleased that Martha is playing with a boy today. She has several very sweet little girl friends, but I have always wondered if boys would seem less complicated to her and therefore be easier to really connect with. Girls can be confusing, capricious and fickle. I should know. I was a horror show of ever-changing loyalties to my friends when I was young and maybe that is why I worry so much about Martha’s feelings getting hurt unexpectedly by a girl who has suddenly chosen to take offense at my child’s obscene burping or the appearance of unerring confidence she can display because she does not know that when friends shower her with compliments, as a female, she should act demure and downplay all positives so as to give the impression that she really thinks she has no self worth whatsoever. Or, at least, that’s what I was brought up to believe. I can’t imagine there’s a flaw in there anywhere.

Well, the play date is ending, and if I could possibly tear myself away from the computer and stop ignoring the kids, which is undeniably the best part of the play date, I will be driving our little friend home. I think he had fun. I hope he did. I’m sure Martha did because pretty much everything is fun in her mind. At least she didn’t have any angry outbursts at me like one other play date I remember when she told me I was so mean and then later, when Martha wasn’t paying attention, the friend came up to me, laid a reassuring hand on my shoulder and told me “I just wanted you to know, I don’t think you’re mean. You’re good people.” I’d say her social skills are coming along. Maybe mine are, too.

1 comment:

  1. This made me giggle. Enjoy the years where having a boy in the basement is this innocent- they are short-lived.