Week in Review: The Importance of Play Dates

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I hadn’t realized how long it had been since the kids and I had gone on a play date until this week, when we finally went on one. We’d been stuck in the house for the past two weeks, at least one of us sniffling and coughing enough to make us keep our germs to ourselves, and before that the closest we’d come to playing with friends was an indoor playground where I brought the kids by myself and they didn’t really play with anyone but me. It’s possible we haven’t seen any friends since before Christmas, but I won’t say that too firmly since my sense of time can be blurry and if we did have you over/go to your house to play, I’m sorry I misremembered. Either way, we were going a little nutty. And then yesterday, I took the girl to the park while the boy was in school. We played. OUTSIDE. It was friggin’ fabulous.

Often I don’t take the girl to play dates with what are essentially the boy’s friends. The mommies are MY friends, but it can still feel strange, especially when the one or two younger siblings who are close enough to the girl’s age aren’t there. I need to change that. One: the girl proved to me this week that she is tough enough to run with the big boys. Two: I need to get out of the house. It’s amazing what even an hour in the company of other adults can do for my mindset, even if we talk about nothing amazing, even if we barely talk at all. There’s an unspoken empathy there.

When the boy was a baby, I took great pains to make sure he was socialized. We tried to get out of the house and do some sort of educational/social activity five days a week. We did library story times, zoo trips, play dates at people’s houses and playgrounds–whatever we could. We had our meetup group (from which his current group of friends emerged) and we almost always had something to do. I was extremely motivated with him in part because I was a new mom, but also because he was so behind in so many ways that I felt like I had to push him to learn and grow. The girl has a tendency to learn and grow on her own. Even today, when we had another play date (amazing! after such a long drought, two in one week!), she was startlingly social considering her general isolation. But there are intangibles at stake. Like Mommy’s sanity. And ultimately, while she enjoys other people, I can see the girl becoming a homebody/Mama’s girl who sees me as her best friend and just doesn’t engage much with others. I don’t believe that’s the worst thing that could happen, but I’d like to know it’s not because I sat at home with her all the time, the TV too often blaring, and gave her the misconception that I am the whole world.

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