Thursday, October 6, 2011

Playdate Pressure

It's been exactly a month since Otter began her academic career, and while some things have drastically improved (like actually wanting to go to school), other aspects of her socialization have um...plateaued (like, say playing with other children). To this end, her teacher suggested several times, that we contact one of the other parents in her class and set up the ubiquitous "play date."

Now as my friend Kate points out, play dates are a rather new invention. When we were kids, which admittedly was a while ago, but not THAT long ago, you were just friends with the kids on your street. But be it a question of progress or geography, cars abound and children running up and down our block are noticeably lacking. Which leads to the necessity of pre-planned spontaneous outings where the children play and the parents referee and (hopefully) bond for what may be a life-long - or an afternoon-long - friendship.

And therein lies the rub. I have a history of shunning forced socializing with strangers. Not that I mind meeting new people - but I had never joined a sorority. Or even a club, really. Networking was always more of a chore than a pleasure. And those Mommy and Me groups sent me running for the hills. It's not that I'm better than those people (ok, I might be better than a few of those people) but after 7th grade I've never belonged to a clique. And it seems odd to start now, when I've fairly mastered the skill set required for making friends organically.

I was hoping that during the orientation meeting at the school, I would naturally gravitate towards someone, whose child would naturally make a perfect playmate for mine. But as we sat pretending to listen to the teachers describe the school, while in actuality sizing each other up one thing became clear to me: I do not fit in with these parents. Jumping to conclusions? Perhaps. Judgey? Most likely. But there I was, with my bleached hair and combat boots. and there they were - in their sun dresses and rhinestoned sandals. So, I'm just saying...

And to be fair, I wouldn't doubt if they had the same initial, unfounded, utterly superficial assessment of me, thinking "Which hooligan did she birth and then enroll with my angel?!"

Which leads me to the little angels I have to pick from. Or rather, the ones Otter has chosen. So far I have been presented with 4 options:

First there was the "Sandbox Companion" - let's call her SC for short. SC seemed very promising - in fact, SC's mom (we'll call her SCM) seemed receptive to the idea. So much so that on the morning we were told of the unbreakable bond of sand toys, SCM suggested to Otter that she go and play play dough with SC. And when Otter didn't jump at the opportunity, SCM took my befuddled child and started leading her away. And that's when it all went south for me.

Really SCM? Do you see me manhandling your spawn into coming closer to the Little People House? Are you suddenly in charge of this classroom? Last I checked, you were just another parent dropping her kid off. So please take your mitts off mine, and note that as of this moment I don't like you, you pushy broad. SCM may have sensed my bristling - the second time the teacher reintroduced us (again, suggesting a play outing for the kiddies) she pretended to be surprised and not recognize me. Yeah, SCM is kinda full of it.

Option two is a young man who is quite proud of his Potty Training prowess. Which he announced (and someone demonstrated) in class. I know he's only three and yes, this is my "my kid is a head taller than everyone but won't potty train sour grapes" routine but come on. Ironically, I think I like PT's mom.

Option three is recovering from a case of Hacking Cough. Enough said.

Option four is Otter's Cubby Roommate. CR may have the most going for her though that is the full extent of what I know about her.

Though from what I'm hearing (much to my shock and chagrin), who I like is fairly irrelevant. Apparently its Otter who gets to gravitate towards friends and I get to do her social planning and follow meekly along. Better find that class roster and start dialing.