They look like they like each other. It is late February on Mars, and the atmosphere around here is tense, at best. The children are bored with their Christmas toys, mommy is broke and crabby, and the regular onslaught of snow and bitter cold continues. Worst of all, Ivan and Veronica alternate between fighting and fits of giggly hysteria, both of which drive me crazy.

Time for a playdate.

I do not like arranging for these meetings, because it is too much like real dating in that I tend towards becoming an insecure, anxious mess. So far, Ivan has been stood up twice by Jack, his friend from Montessori school. In both cases, Jack was sick, and in both cases, Ivan was absolutely heartbroken. This week it looks hopeful.

I am nervous because the playdate is here. Jack lives in Arden Hills (which sounds like a women’s perfume) or Falcon Heights (which sounds like a men’s cologne). We live in Frogtown (which if it were a perfume, you would not want to smell) in an “artist’s co-operative.” Our neighbors are the Hmong marketplace, and a crumbing green house with a very suspicious looking trailer parked on the lawn. I find these details delightful, but I worry that Jack’s mother, wreathed in the fragrant aura of the suburbs, will not. I can only hope that Jack returns home to say, “And they have a bike in the living room.” and not, “Ivan’s mom only smokes outside and only when she gets really upset.”

As for Veronica, I tried to make a playdate with her friend from school who, like all of my daughter’s school friends, has a name I can neither spell nor pronounce. It sounded to me like Ellipses, but that can’t be right. Veronica brought home a post-it note with her friend’s phone number, written in her seven-year old scrawl. I left a tentative message,

“Hello, this is Jennifer, Veronica’s mom, and I was calling to see if Ellipses would like to play this weekend. If this is, in fact, Elleepsies mom (and here I change the pronunciation slightly, in hopes I will eventually nail it), which I hope it is (nervous laugh). Okay, then, just call me, Veronica would love to see Ulllisspes.” Following this call, Veronica by turns harassed me and checked my phone for messages until I called and left another message, and finally, another on Saturday morning.

Elipses mom called me back around eleven on the Saturday of the would-be playdate.

“Hi!” Elipses mom brightly said, “Obviously a playdate isn’t going to work out today!!” Obviously? I wonder if she understands the meaning of the word, “Oh? That’s too bad.”

“Yes, well, we volunteer on weekends, so that’s probably not going to work out.” I’m impressed by this information, particularly that she cajoles a seven year old to spend all weekend volunteering.

“Weeknights are a little too hectic, I suppose.” I say, thinking of V’s wriggly little handwriting and hand-wringing.

“No, it will probably have to wait til summer.” Ellipses mom says definitively. “But we both really appreciate the offer!” I am pretty sure I am being snubbed, but can’t fathom why. How can my reputation preceed me at this school? How can anyone snub my adorable girl? I mouth the words ‘fuck off’ into the receiver, “Hmmkay, let’s touch base then.” I hang up and yell to Veronica, “You need to find a different friend at school for your playdate. Ellipses isn’t going to work out!”

I decide to plan a playdate for her and I while Jack is visiting. We will make cookies so the house will smell like vanilla when Jack’s mom comes to pick him up, and he will tell his mom, “Ivan’s mom makes the best cookies!” Volunteer that.


11 thoughts on “Playdates”

  1. a couple years back we had a playdate with one of Jack’s pals from school. He comes into our apartment and first thing he says is, ” WHOA, it’s so messy!” and that’s after we made a conscious effort to slick up the place. *sigh*.

    1. Mollie, the real horror show is my car. Once we had a kid who dared to ask “Why is your car so MESSY?” and I whirled around in my seat and said, with a broad, crazy woman smile, “Because I’m a bad, bad mommy.” Shut them right up!

      1. Jen I love this! I can so relate – raising kids in Sartell. As if raising kids isn’t hard enough…

  2. Hooray, I’m so glad I’m the not the only one who has playdate issues! Sorry you got snubbed; happened to my son too when a classmate’s mom claimed he was too young to have a playdate in, um, 2nd grade. And for days I wondered whether the mom was weird or whether she had some personal problem with me.

    And I, too, have had children tell me my house/car is messy. I’m going to use your line next time. In fact, I hope a child DOES say that to me soon. Anyway, since we both approach playdates with trepidation, you should bring the kids over to my place tomorrow p.m. for a non-trepidation playdate, if you’re not busy. We have swim lessons until 11:30, anytime thereafter is fine.

  3. June Clever is long dead and laughing at us whether she is in heaven, hell or just the hell she has left us less-than-perfect mortal parents.

    Yes, it is one thing to wonder if you are being rejected by a potential date or just that it’s not working out or not possible and you think, oh well. I’m fine on my own or someone else will come or it just is what it is. Our kids don’t even have to be in a friendship for this kind of disconnect to break our hearts, even if it’s just because it just isn’t working out.

  4. For my last playdate, I just laid it on the line and told the unknown mother, “We have two cats, in case anyone is allergic. And I’m a terrible housekeeper, in case you have standards.” She worked out lovely. All you need is a few keepers, but the vetting process is brutal.

  5. Sometimes I think I am missing out by not having children. And some days, I don’t.

    Its a good thing I have friends like you who remind me of both types of days….

  6. Don’t ever stop writing this blog. It makes me feel like I still get to see you often (which I sadly do not). Great stuff.

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