Play Date

I was trying to look up when the idea of a "Play Date" became a thing.

It certainly wasn't a part of my generation.

We were given bicycles and told to go outside. If there was a park near-by, that was nice. If not, then there was usually some kind of cul-de-sac, or creek bed, or parking lot with which to find find some kind of juvenile entertainment. If we got thirsty there were garden hoses everywhere, if we had to pee, there were trees.

Another reason why it's tough being a girl.

At some point, and I'm not necessarily blaming the Reagan Administration, but at some point, outside became dangerous. Unsupervised activity led to terrible terrible things. No longer was the worst case scenario scraped knees and head lice . . . no no no . . . now there are kidnappers and pedophiles and drunk drivers and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Not to mention internet porn.

A parent would be crazy to allow unscheduled activity, but we also know, cause we've read all the books, that 'unsupervised' activity is is the cornerstone to raising children to understand their place within the social hierarchy.

Play is good.

Play is important.

Play is essential.

But how to we instill a sense of youthful exploration while ensuring our progeny never leave our sight?

Enter The Play Date.

We meet up with friends, coworkers, fellow Jesus-ists, or Facebook connections who have children that are roughly the same age as our own. We set the parameters, make sure there aren't any potentially lethal objects around (like sticks or dirt), and talk about the weather with the adults while still keeping one eye, or even one parent on savior duty.

At least I think that's how that goes.

I don't know.

I'd never been invited to one.

We just happened to luck out that our particular cup-de-sac was filled with age appropriate children running around in packs and a police officer across the street who parks his cruiser in such a way as to be pretty intimidating if you happen to be a bad guy.

I got my son a bike and told him to go outside.

An exception was made that he was allowed to come back in to pee, and juice boxes are readily available, but aside from that, he gets to grow up pretty much the same way I did.

I think that's good.

I hope that's good.

Won't really know for another twenty years.

Anyway, I'm not necessarily poo-pooing the play date . . .  because there's a flip side.

Maybe, just maybe, it's not about the children at all. It's probably really about the parents. Adults need some unsupervised activities too.

Once that bald little head starts crowning, you (and hopefully your partner) are sentenced to a virtual island only accessible by pontoon boat.

It's not that you've lost all of your friends and family, it's just that everyone you know isn't anywhere near your level.

The people in your life who have been through it, become smug and condescending.

The people who haven't . . . couldn't give a flying fart.

You got each other (hopefully) . . . and that's it.

And for two years you're not even in the same arena. It's tag team time, but then slowly, cautiously, you're able to relax a bit, drop your guard, maybe even lock your bedroom door.

And then comes that moment when you realize that you haven't spoken in full sentences for the better part of the year because you and your wife have so many inside jokes and recognizable looks  that you don't remember how to communicate in full sentences.

We need play dates just to feel human.

I recently found out that some close friends are moving to a house that is super close to ours.

And I'm like over the top super excited.

Sure we would get together a few times a year, wine tastings, the occasional birthday party, but now we get to say things like "Hey . . . I made too many pork chops . . . you wanna come over for dinner?"

Casual, whatcha doing?, unscheduled, unsupervised play dates.

Without all the scraped knees and head lice.

And with beer.

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