At this point in my life, almost all of my pre-kid friends have procreated. There is a fun and sobering bonus to parenthood-you meet up with your old drinking buddies at 10 am with Goldfish and lattes rather than at 10 pm with chicken wings and Jagerbombs.
One afternoon, a friend of mine and I decided to get our kids together. She has two boys. They’re a little bit older than my girls, but the kids usually get along just fine, so they often play together. Shortly into our playdate, my oldest and her oldest got into a scuffle. No one knows what really happened because they were alone at the time, but my daughter was very, very sad, and her son was very, very mad. Harsh accusations flew about, “meanie” and “liar” being the most prominent. My friend disciplined her son while I tried to get more information from my daughter.
This wasn’t the kind of disagreement we could laugh off, as we had in the past. Disagreeing on what game to play, who should be “it,” or what snack they should share were things we could laugh at as good-natured preschoolism. In this case, they were equally inconsolable, and their stories didn’t match. One of our kids was being dishonest and neither of us knew who to believe.
What to do when a playdate goes wrong
We had to cut the playdate short. For the siblings who were uninvolved and otherwise enjoying themselves, this was an abrupt and unwelcome turn of events. More chaos ensued, and my friend and I were just trying to say goodbye and keep the awkwardness to a minimum.
Up until that point, when my daughter told me someone at school was being mean or hurtful, it was very easy to take her side, albeit silently. In this case, it was my friend’s kid. Her husband was the best man at my wedding. I’d known her kids since birth, and they’re sweet boys. At the same time, my oldest doesn’t usually lie (her sister is another story).
Leaving the playdate, I felt uneasy. I was worried this incident would have lasting consequences. Was my friend upset with how I handled my daughter? Should I have done things differently? Will we have to keep the kids separated for a while? If my daughter was actually telling the truth, my friend’s son was being needlessly hurtful. Should I limit their interaction going forward?
All of this plagued me long after my daughter had forgotten about the incident. As we went on with dinner and bedtime, I noticed I had a missed call and a voice message from my friend. It was her little boy, calling to apologize about the way things unfolded. It was no doubt a coerced apology, but an apology nonetheless. I followed suit and had my daughter record a message to send.
Wait it out
All in all, things are fine. Deep down, I know my friend is a good mom with sweet kids, and I hope she thinks the same of me. So, fret not if you ever find yourself in a position where a playdate looks more like an episode of the Real Housewives than Sesame Street.
The kids will forget, and if you’re truly friends with the parents, they won’t hold a grudge either. Just sit tight and wait for it all to blow over.