Sunday, September 16, 2007

i am a playdating whore

This is the first weekend where M's social life has taken precedent over ours. Not that we have much of a social life, but not doing anything at all is still different than keeping three separate engagements for your child.

I don't enter into this easily, the tedium of small talk and constant navigation of toddler social skills. I sit at the park and wonder why they don't have a stand for bloody marys, why no other mothers feel the same way or at least say it out loud. But at the same time I see the joy in M's face, the over exuberance and kicking of legs. The running headlong into her friends and into their homes, new toy discoveries and new beds to jump on. We tackled two of these yesterday and when we finally came home I sat outside with J and noted the weight of this milestone; that until now she's basically done what we've wanted, willing or not. The things we did usually revolved around her but were solo ventures that hadn't yet expanded to others. But this weekend is markedly different, the cracking open the door of a new reality, one where her friends take precedence and it's a juggle of arriving at these mini-events and then home for a nap and then back out again. With new rules and toddlerisms navigated along the way.

We gathered with our newfound neighbors (it's slowly progressing, this community) for a BBQ last night and over beers and babies I talked of this briefly, and the eager looks of our neighbors who still worry of swaddling and nursing and perhaps long for this level of interaction, this show of independence prompted me to implore them to make sure they take it as slow as they can because you can't get back what you grow out of, no matter how bright things look as you move forward because space will take on the air you give it and we are ever expanding still.

So we surrender and commence, this beginning of a third social life with it's constructs and schedules, this way of marking her own presence in this world as she grows into what will be many coming and going of friends, not all ending gracefully but all with significance. She's learning to dance, my M. She's on her way.

35 comments:

kristen said...

a rite of passage to be certain. through all the small talk, i did manage to make some good friends but now it's changed and my era is one of drop-off play dates. beautiful because you're gifted a couple hours free of the small person schedule, or if you are hosting, you get a break in your own home because they don't want from you. sometimes i miss being needed like that, until i sit down here with a cup of tea and relax. (=

Kyla said...

The training wheels of the social sector...mom or dad still nearby if needed, but she's taking the first steps to create relationships of her own. Soon enough, she'll be venturing out all on her own once in a while. It seems so strange and so right all at once.

Z said...

I had an 8-year gap between my second child and my third and I found (to my surprise because he was very much planned and wanted) that I found it really hard to go back to the stage of doing things for and with a little child. It was so boring - and yet I'd enjoyed it before, when I had two small children and was completely immersed in their needs and doings.

It helped me make friends, though, when we moved house. I was really shy, so arranging play dates and going to the park etc with other parents was a good way of getting to know people, who we could then invite round and get to know as friends too. We're all so busy now, we don't have so much time for being sociable and I miss that.

KC said...

We haven't gotten to the point that playdates with parents who are not our close friends happen. I guess it is a good way of possibly developing those relationships but that seems strange, indeed. I like being one of Jolie's 2 best friends right now.

PunditMom said...

It is quite the process. Next weekend, we are booked with seven-year-old activities. But the drop-off playdates are heaven (and do wonders for our own grown-up extracurricular activities)!

flutter said...

I always knew you were a lusty wench. :)

she is learning to dance, and with you as her mama, she'll learn to fly

slouching mom said...

And there will be yet another stage, this one very freeing for you, when having a child over for a playdate requires less effort from you than having no playdate at all.

blooming desertpea said...

a third social life - a good way of describing it. And I agree with SM, look forward to having a child over - that can be paradise in hell!

Janet said...

I have to disagree with you. The park is not the right venue for Bloody Marys; a keg of beer seems more fitting.

I joke! Sort of.

I didn't mind playdates when the kids were young, because they were usually with children of my friends. I found the playdates of early school awkward, though. I would tag along to meet and greet and make sure my kid was comfortable, but I felt awkward and twitchy making small talk over coffee. Blech.

Now, the older two go on drop-off playdates. It is very liberting, as others have said. For me, the liberation is fleeting, as I get to relive the entire "awkward small talk" playdate stage with Elyse in a few years. Send beer.

bgirl said...

oh playdates...you will soon revel in these for the new view of your little one and for the way it can make a long day, suddenly fly by.

painted maypole said...

she's learning to dance. And so, it seems, are you.

crazymumma said...

Its an exciting time as they figure out their own tribe. Who they dance with, who they don't.

May she find good partners and share the lead.

Seattle Mamacita said...

I know what you mean...the G attended a birthday party last weekend where he did everything on his own for the first time ever (played games, jumped into a pool of foam, walked the balance beam etc.) I didn't even sit next to him when all his buddies gathered together for pizza I have such mixed feelings about this new social life and independence that is evolving.

Blog Antagonist said...

Eh. I never did get good at it. Fortunately, my oldest is very gregarious and makes friends on his own quite easily. Youngest is like me. We're not terribly outgoing. We kind of like it that way, but sometimes I do feel that he is missing out on things because we don't have a huge network of friends.

Bon said...

this was a really beautiful post, Jen...in all its thoughtfulness and ambivalence and celebration of M even with the accommodations that are not so easy.

we are not there yet, and i don't think i had really seen this threshold looming, the one where O doesn't just go along with us, to things that are centered around him (maybe) but still not his choice.

huh. i suppose that makes sense.

do you think i can sway him to pick kids with interesting parents?

capacious said...

I always hated that small talk SO MUCH. So much. It didn't kill me (almost, but not quite).

These early playdates lead to the ones where you can leave your kid at someone else's house and go home and do what you want. Of course, you have to reciprocate (if you're an honorable person, anyway), but it's kind of nice to have kids busily playing at your house and that's a kind of freedom too.

I can't believe the escorted playdate is long over for me, I never thought it would be, I thought I would be tortured long into old age. Someday soon (sooner than you can ever guess) you will be saying the exact same thing.

Lawyer Mama said...

It's hard for me too. Small talk is not my forte. Blood marys? Yes! (Did that sound bad?) LOL!

Hollis is teaching me too. He's quiet like me, but he loves being around other kids so much. I'm so lucky to have a few good friends in this are with kids the same age. It makes this new stage easier for me. Although I still wish that we were neighbors, friend!

Tabba said...

a good friend of mine said recently:
"my aunt told me, that if you have a friend who has children and your children and their children get along well, that is a blessing from god".

a tad scary that they are starting to make their way and crazy exciting at the same time.

luckyzmom said...

I admire how you are paying attention to M's development, even though you seem to have a very full schedule.

jennifer said...

So true- and this train never stops...

Julie Pippert said...

You see so well and write so gorgeously of that which we all feel and experience to some degree, I think.

And oh baby, how funny...I just wrote a kindergarten transition post; this one is part one...but a subsequent part is Patience Develops Her Own Life. The next stage after M's.

What a beautiful reminder that we've been here before and done fine, right when we are grasping and gasping through so many changes.

Thanks.

And good luck. :)

Julie
Using My Words

Magpie said...

I'm so bad about playdates. But we actually went to someone's house today, and the kids played while the mom and I talked, and it was nice. It was like...sort of...a little...like making a friend.

Christine said...

sm is so right--playdates can morph into something so awesome. when my son or daughter has a friend over they are totally OCCUPIED-- for hours. i love it.
;-p

mitzh said...

She is learning to dance and it is nice to take it all in and move slowly until she found her own rhythm...

You're a great mom, Jen.

Oh, The Joys said...

I know, I know. Can you believe they are going to have their own agendas? The gall! Heh.

meno said...

And it gets busier and busier.

And then they move out.

Susanne said...

I too wonder why there are no bloody marys at the playground. So far I have been the only one I know though. I get easily bored by small talk and most people. (I know I should love them all but I'd rather do that from a distance.) So I avoided that playdate thing as much as I could (and hey, I have to work (and German don't do playdates on Saturdays, only weekday afternoons for some reason)). Now I am blessed with a son whom I can drop at a playdate and then go back home. Hurray for kindergardeners! Or some child comes to our place and I only have to be within earshot and occasionally provide a snack.

It's no wonder though that I haven't made any friends through having a child...

QT said...

Oh this made me laugh - my de-facto SIL used to bring a small round cooler of vodka lemonade to her son's games, which we would drink in the stands. We always had to tell her son that that was for grown-ups only, he had his own cooler.

So a few months ago, he runs over to where we were sitting and points to the cooler and yells across the field - "Mom, is there beer in here?"

She just about died.

Look for those moms - they are out there!!!

Ally said...

I, too, would find the park much more fun if a stand sold Bloody Marys. Ahh, the marys.... (drool).

Glad to hear you had a BBQ and got to know some neighbors better. That's great.

And also, you are right to mark this weekend because it does seem like an important mini-coming-up-in-the-world moment.

Anjali said...

So eloquently put, as always. It's a navigation of a part of childrearing that would best be endured with at least one, if not two Bloody Marys.

carrie said...

And you are right there by her side, good parents.

Little Monkies said...

"...because you can't get back what you grow out of, no matter how bright things look as you move forward because space will take on the air you give it and we are ever expanding still."

This made me tear up, for reasons you likely intended and some that you wouldn't have.

We are ever expanding still...

Thanks for that, I so needed those words for some reason.

XOX

Ruth Dynamite said...

Watching them learn to dance, alone and with others, is pure joy.

Hetha said...

This was beautiful jen, especially "space will take on the air you give it"...absoulutely.

NotSoSage said...

Oh, this made me tear up a bit. I need to get things together so that I can post about Mme L's dance class this past weekend and the revelations I had.

It's lovely to hear about M.