Social Commentary

Playdate Rage


The other day, I was taken over by what you could call ‘Playdate Rage.’

Firstly, I’d like to be clear that I do not enjoy organising playdates, with its 15 email trails/Whatsapp frenzy/ texting/organising/re-organising/re-scheduling because of sickness/family in town/unforeseen circumstances. As a matter of fact, in my ideal world, there would not be any playdates, we would just come home after school or go to the local park/playground and play with whoever is there. Even better, I grew up coming home and playing on the beach (yes, I know, what am I doing here in London!? 😉 ). So the whole ‘playdate’ thing is foreign to me. But, my children love playdates and they hear about their classmates’ playdates so I organise them for their happiness. And I do actually enjoy the actual playdates, it’s the organisational aspect that can get quite tedious.

One of my greatest pet peeves are cancellations at the last minute accompanied by silly excuses. It shows a lack of thought, respect and manners. So, when one of the mums cancelled my child’s playdate 2 hours before the playdate, I was sent into a ‘playdate rage.’ Let me elaborate: 1) my daughter had been begging for this playdate for months 2) this was the second time they cancelled at the last minute 3) the mother couldn’t be bothered calling me, it was the nanny who called with a veiled bullshit excuse. Not the day before, which could be acceptable, but two hours before so I couldn’t quickly organise a replacement playdate. The problem I now faced was a crying/tantruming toddler who didn’t understand why this child never wanted to do a playdate with her.

Playdate etiquette is that there is no etiquette and sometimes it’s a free for all, when some people forget their manners, respect and decency. Luckily, most people aren’t like this, but this model-gorgeous/celebrity/superrich mum has forgotten those somewhere along the way. I would like to tell her that ‘Yes, I know you may be too-busy-being-papped/have-a-complicated-glamorous-life/only-like-other-superrich, but frankly I don’t care, I care about my child and I’d like a bit more respect.’ But of course, this would be completely socially unacceptable and would send me straight into pariah territory. 12 hours later, I was over it, but it reminded me of all the stories I have heard over the years of ‘playdate rage’ (Just to be clear, not all Glamorous Supermums are like this, many are absolutely lovely, courteous, polite and actually speak to me).

Someone was telling me about a mum who invited her daughter’s 6 best friends to Eurodisney for the weekend. The whole weekend would be paid for, which was quite expensive, and it was planned months in advance. But towards the big weekend, the two girls didn’t seem as close as before, so the mum actually dis-invited the child (and probably invited someone else instead), who of course was absolutely devastated. It’s the type of rudeness I cannot tolerate.

Another friend had organised a playdate for her son and another boy in the class at the boy’s house. It turns out the other boy’s mother had invited another mother and son as well but hadn’t invited her, saying ‘just send the nanny.’ The nanny went along while the two other mums caught up, excluding my friend.

And then there are those who just don’t show up. Period. No excuses. No forewarning emails.

I know it’s not always straightforward and we all cancel or exclude by mistake sometimes. But there’s a proper way and an improper way of handling playdates. At the end of the day, all we want is for our children to be happy and it doesn’t matter who is at the other end of the playdate-organisation-phone. I also hope that I am teaching my children to be kind, thoughtful and considerate. So, in the long term, maybe it’s all for the better.

Let me know your worst playdate stories!