I received a text from Sarah; she invited me over for a playdate. She said she wasn’t going to be home because she had a class at the gym, but to feel free to pop over and hang out with her nanny, Malia. Malia has been very unhappy in her job, be sure to catch up on everything that’s been going on with her once you finish this post. There’s a link at the end. Anyhow, apparently Sarah’s kid has been asking for my son, begging for a playdate. I accepted the offer.When I arrived, the door was open. I knocked on the screen door, but no answer. I opened the door and called out for Malia, she yelled from the back of the house to come in. We walked to the kitchen and Malia was there in her housecoat, wearing nude peds on her feet.
The boys ran up to Noah’s bedroom to play and I sat at the kitchen table. Malia said she was hungry and took out an Entenmanns all butter loaf from the pantry. I didn’t want any, but I sat with her while she ate and asked her how things were going. She told me life at the house is worse than ever. She said Sarah is on a “crazy” 30 day cleanse and she’s being very difficult because she’s starving and in a bad mood all the time. She said she’s making her do everything in the house including laundry. She’s got her on a strict laundry schedule. The kid’s laundry is to be done twice a week, sheets and towels once a week, delicate clothes another day, two days of Sarah and her husband’s laundry and one day for Malia to do her own. She said she sometimes mixes the kids laundry in with Sarah’s, but asked me not to tell her.
When Malia was finished she said she had to clean the kitchen up before Sarah got home. The sink was full of dishes. She started complaining about that. I told her it’s not that bad when you have a dishwasher. Malia said she never uses it, that she prefers to wash everything by hand. What happened next really grossed me out.
Malia started washing dishes, cups and utensils with her hands. No soap, no sponge, just her hands. She rubbed everything with her hands under water and then put them on the drying rack. I couldn’t believe my eyes. She washed an entire sink full of dishes like this. I was shocked. Were they clean? I asked her how Sarah felt about her not using the dishwasher. She said Sarah will have something to say about it when Sarah starts emptying it. Until then, this is how things will be.
Then Malia asked me if I wanted a Saturday night babysitter. She said she’d stay over so my husband and I wouldn’t have to rush home. I told her no. I don’t need any trouble with Sarah. Malia started drying the dishes and putting them away. I couldn’t believe this. Are those dishes clean? What do you think?
I was outside in the front yard working in the garden while my kids played in the dirt with their monster trucks. We had just gotten back from our family vacation, our first time in Disney. Everyone was relaxed and happy, until Country Club Anna passed by with her kids. She was pulling her daughter in a red wagon while her three other children ran ahead with their nanny. Anna stopped to say hello, the others didn’t. That’s when my day went south.
Country Club Anna’s daughter sat in the wagon eating French fries. She asked me if I had a car or truck that she could play with, I did. Her fingers were covered in ketchup, she licked them clean and when Anna saw this she freaked out “Where are your manners, young lady?” It was awkward. She got out of the wagon and suddenly we were having a playdate. I wasn’t happy about this; I had a ton of work to do in my front yard.
Anna asked me about Disney, she told me about the legitimate tour guide company she hires when they go, it costs a fortune, but allows them to go to the front of the lines “It’s totally worth it.” She said she’ll forward me the contact info for next time. Whatever. Then she asked me about the restaurants we went to and if we got to see the fireworks. She really seemed to know the ins and outs. Then she asked what we brought back for her kids. Are you kidding me? I said we didn’t get souvenirs. She was surprised “Really? We always bring a little something back for our friends, but ok.” I was appalled by this, I mean, first of all, we’re not close and souvenirs are expensive! I was upset.
Then she sat on my stoop and pointed out a bush that needed trimming “That could be a perfect orb if you used an electric trimmer.” I didn’t respond. I guess she got the hint because she told her daughter that it was time to go and get ready for dinner. Her daughter had just finished an order of fries! Anyhow, she said she’s going to invite us over soon, but things might be a little hectic because she wants to have a giant in-ground trampoline installed in her yard. I didn’t even know those existed! Then she pointed at her daughter and said “She could use a little exercise.” Her daughter got back in the wagon and Country Club Anna pulled her off into the sunset.
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Professional fathers (i.e. fulltime, stay-at-home dads) Mark Staufer & Bryan Erwin at Dadsaster met on a playdate. Which just goes to prove how nightmarish and truly weird these things can be. A few weeks later they decided that instead of hanging out just talking at each other about fatherhood while their kids plummeted, unsupervised from play structures, they should probably start a weekly podcast called Dadsaster. And anyway, Mark was sick of always being the one with the snacks and sunscreen. So, Dadsaster has compiled a handy-dandy list of the types of playdates they’ve encountered and you should avoid at all possible cost.
Dadsaster’s The 10 Most Nightmarish Bad Playdates
This is when you turn-up with your kid at the appointed time and the other parent either isn’t there, or leaves immediately on “urgent errands” leaving you alone with both kids and… the Nanny. This can be particularly excruciating if, say, the Nanny doesn’t speak a word of English. What’s even worse? If the Nanny speaks English and asks you for a job.
That other parent doesn’t have a Nanny. You arrive and you are suddenly the Nanny. Unpaid. Congratulations. Excuses for leaving you alone with all the kids can range from “errands” to unspecified medical emergencies. The only thing here is to get in first with a prepared “worser case scenario.” Always carry one. Your errand must be more pressing (Meals on Wheels for a dying Aunt) or more serious a medical emergency (kidney dialysis, anything involving leprosy or lice).
You don’t realize until it’s too late — the other kid is possessed by the devil. Five minutes in, he’s smashed the Lego Death Star it took you a week to construct and is attacking your kid with a banana. These days you’ll be lucky to find a playmate for your kid who doesn’t have some acronymized personality disorder. Usually the other parent thinks their cherub’s behavior is absolutely normal, even when their head starts spinning and the pea soup gushes. Always carry holy water and a cattle-prod to any first-time playdates.
Some “foods” should not be eaten and some parents don’t read the labels. As a rule of thumb, if the food glows or has a list of ingredients as long as a Tolstoy novel, it shouldn’t be fed to human children. When some other parent and their sickly-chubby spawn begin tucking into the Cheetos and Coca-Cola and offer your child some, we suggest you firmly but politely decline by pointing-out they’re probably both going to die from cancer. Oh, and always, ALWAYS, bring your own non-carcinogenic snacks.
You thought it was gonna be a free afternoon at the playground with the slim possibility of a visit to the emergency room? Not this time. Today you’ll end up spending 50 bucks for a couple of hours “fun” at Chuck E Cheese, Hello Kitty Litter Land or Dick McRobot’s Cosmic Adventureverse. Frankly, you’ve got better things to spend the 50 bucks on which don’t involve your kid. Lie. Not in front of your kid, because that would be bad. It’s OK to lie to other parents though — take them aside and quietly mention the diphtheria outbreak that has plagued Dick McRobots since it opened. If they say that their kid has been vaccinated against diphtheria, apologize and say you meant to say lice.
OMG! You know the drill, Dads. You show up on a hot day and are ushered into the den by the scantily-clad recently-divorced MILF who asks you to massage factor 35 into her shoulders. Her bikini top flutters to the shag-pile rug and… Uh-huh-uh-huh. Never. Ever. Ever happens.
See above, but with the recently-divorced Speedo-wearing other dad. More common than you would actually think, according to Bryan.
Some parents can’t tell the time or read the signs. You mention it’s getting close to bath and dinner time, and they chat on obliviously. You actually go and have the bath, and they’re there waiting for you when you get out. They’re lonely for adult company, basically. Finally, after you’ve turned the fire hose on them, they take the hint and leave. This is why you should never, ever, ever, invite anyone to your place on a first playdate. Always do it somewhere you can leave from. This is also why you should never do a first playdate on a boat or small island of any type. Or a hot air balloon.
Some parents actually have the temerity to answer in great detail when you ask the rhetorical question, “How are you?” Trapped at home with only a 2 year-old for company, you’re the first adult apart from the grocery-packer at Ralph’s, they’ve had a conversation with in days. And they’ve got a lot of crap to get off their chest. And you could care less. And that’s when you need to take an urgent call that lasts the length of the playdate. And that’s why you need some really good game apps on your phone.
1. PLAYDATE IN THE HOUSE OF DEATH
You know how we mentioned you should never have anyone round to your house on a playdate. Well, we amend that to: playdates should always be on neutral ground, preferably in a free and public place where escape routes are plentiful. You see, some houses are death-traps. Knives and medicine bottles are left lying around, large, predatory dogs and feral cats roam free, E. coli breeds on every surface, lice and ticks leap from the carpet to greet you and your juicy ankles and scalp, and there are major issues with heights and concrete. Mark claims he keeps his house in this constant state of peril to deter playdates. Although he lives in constant fear of Child Services knocking on the door for another one of their “random inspections.”
I’ve become friendly with a few parents from my son’s weekend soccer class and one of the families invited a bunch of us over for a playdate after practice yesterday. Our kids get along well and it was a gorgeous day so hey, why not? I’ve never been to their house, but knew it was in the super fancy part of town. The dad had mentioned that they have a hot tub. I didn’t want any part of that, but a few of the other parents who were also invited seemed excited.
It was late morning so we picked up some baked goods on our way over and the other parents arrived with bloody Mary mix and vodka. Everyone was having fun chatting away in a beautiful yard while the kids played ping pong and climbed on the wooden play structure. Everything was fantastic, until the unthinkable happened.
One of the dads took his pants off; he was wearing his swimsuit underneath and he got in the hot tub. He was a hairy dad. His chest, back and arms were as hairy as a carpet. I didn’t care, but the owner of the house rushed over “Oh hey, I didn’t know you were going to get in there.” Hairy dad said he stopped home to get his suit after hearing about the hot tub. The owner walked away. Hairy dad was in good shape, I saw all the moms looking at him and one said “Now that’s a hot father.” They all giggled.
My kids started to head over to the hot tub and I followed them. They begged me to let them go in, said the boys on their team offered to let them wear their suits. I told them it wasn’t a good idea and to go check out the ping pong table. They didn’t, they just stared at the hot tub. Then things started to get interesting.
Suddenly the owner of the house reappeared with a net and started skimming the surface of the water around the hairy dad. The poor dad was shedding body hair and the owner stood over the hot tub obsessively cleaning it. A few of the other kids came over to see what was going on. One boy asked if he could help clean it with the net and the dad said no. Another kid asked if she could use the net to catch butterflies. The dad said no. Hairy dad was all alone in the hot tub and the owner of the house just kept skimming the water around him. A little boy who looked to be about three years old suddenly started crying “Will I be hairy like that one day?” His hairless dad ran over, scooped him up and took him to the other end of the yard. Hairy dad laughed.
He stayed in for a good 15 minutes while the owner of the house continuously skimmed the water with the net while they talked about the Knicks. When he got out of the hot tub everyone stared, hairy dad shook off and yelled out “What does a guy have to do to get a Bloody Mary around here?” Every mom there wanted to bring him his drink, but the hairless dad did as his three year old continued to scream and stare at the hairy dad.
Yesterday I had a sit down with my 18 year old Manny. We needed to discuss what had happened the day before while he was watching my kids. I never leave Manny alone with the kids because he’s young. When I hired him it was understood that he was going to be a mother’s helper and he was fine with that.
I heard my 5 year old son crying while Manny was watching him so I went outside to see what was going on. Manny didn’t know I was behind him. He was holding my son’s arms, saying “You think I care that you’re crying because I don’t, you can cry all you want.” I was shocked to hear this and asked what was going on. He seemed startled. He said my son was trying to escape the yard and he wasn’t going to let that happen. I told Manny he should go home. He texted me later that day asking for another chance to prove himself. He said he doesn’t want to work at the frozen yogurt shop or for a mom like Country Club Anna. That’s when I scheduled a sit down with him.
Manny arrived on time. I offered him something to drink, but he had his own water. My kids were playing with their race track in the playroom when he arrived so we were able to chat alone. I told him I was upset and confused about what had happened. He apologized and started telling me that he needs work and doesn’t want a job at the frozen yogurt shop or any other type of fast food or retail. He said he enjoys being outside, loves kids and likes working for me. It was at that moment that something occurred to me.
I’m having a really hard time with my grass. What the hell, he’s not great with kids; maybe he’d be better with my lawn. It’s a disaster. I asked him if he would be interested in mowing, weed whacking and edging. His face lit up. He said he would be up for other chores too like raccoon control. I’m not sure what that means, but if raccoons tip my garbage cans again this summer, I might ask him to deal with the mess. I told him to arrive covered in insect repellent. He starts tomorrow and told me he’s thankful and excited.
So Manny will still be working for me twice a week for the same hourly rate. He might become overwhelmed by the weeds, but at least they won’t care if he yells. Let’s see how this works out.
Thanks to everyone who commented and offered advice. I’m glad Manny gets to stay on. I hope he won’t disappoint me. How do you guys think this will play out?
My 18 year old manny was watching my kids yesterday afternoon and everything seemed fine. I was in the house working and the kids were in our yard with him playing. It was a gorgeous day so my windows were open. Manny had been playing soccer and hide and seek with the kids for about 40 minutes and then things started to fall apart.
I heard my 5 year old crying so I went out to see what was going on. Manny didn’t know I was behind him. He was holding my son’s arms, saying to him “You think I care that you’re crying because I don’t, you can cry all you want.” I was shocked to hear this and asked what was going on. He seemed startled. He said my son was trying to escape the yard and he wouldn’t let him.
I pulled manny aside and asked him why he told my son that he didn’t care if he was crying. He said he thought my kid was just trying to make his life difficult. That could have been true I suppose. I told him he should have called out for me when things got out of control and then I told him to go home. He apologized and said he’s stressed out because he’s getting ready for college and is suffering from a case of “Senioritis.” He said he’d be in touch and told me he liked my sneakers, pumas from the 90’s. He said he liked how I criss crossed the Velcro.
He texted me apologizing again and wrote “I’d really rather not have to get a job at the frozen yogurt shop or work for a horrible mom like the one who passed by that day (he was referring to Country Club Anna) so please give me another chance.” I told him he should come by this afternoon so we could all chat and set some ground rules. Manny said he won’t disappoint me.
Look, I’m glad he was trying to keep my son from running away. Manny is only 18, I think he was overwhelmed.
I don’t know what to do. Do I give my manny another chance? What would you do?
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Check out this mom’s crazy Bad Playdate! Her toddler created problems for her at her church.
Dear Bad Playdate,
I invited a woman from my church group over to my house with her children for a playdate. I have a daughter the same age as hers. I warned her ahead of time that my daughter likes to run around in a t-shirt and underwear at home (She was 2 at the time) but I was teaching her proper guest etiquette so it should be ok, but I warned her so that if it happened, she wouldn’t be surprised. She arrived with her son and daughter and the playdate was going really well, my daughter kept her pants on and I was super proud of her, but just as they were getting ready to leave, my daughter came out of her room wearing a t-shirt and her underwear and the other mom became horrified and shielded her sons eyes yelling at the top of her lungs at me that if there was going to be a strip show she would have left her kids at home. My daughter had a long t-shirt on that covered her almost to the knees and underwear on.
The mom left and complained to everyone at my church that I was immoral and raising an immoral daughter. Once I explained the situation, everyone laughed and understood, but this woman never did. Did I do something wrong?
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