I love a good play date.
The following conditions are required for a good play date to occur:
1. Free-flowing conversation that can be interrupted easily, totally nonsequitor-esque, and still great.
2. Non-judgement of parenting skills from all parties
3. Kids who don't completely antagonize one another, and perhaps even play well together.
4. Location must be kid friendly and stress reducing (NOT inducing)
5. Punctuality: be there within 15 minutes of said meeting time,
6. Regularity: Once a week is perfect
7. Know when to quit! Even if the conversation is flowing, if the kids start melting down, you gotta stop.
On our last play date, Annika decided it was fun to climb the bicycle rack.
Major props to Kristen for both not judging AND for knowing that that's just Annika.
Group pictures are obligatory, but cooperation is not. Annika just wasn't having it that day.
Don't Evan, Alex, & Mayzie look cute though?
Earlier this week, Mayzie had a much different kind of play date.
Here she is playing with Ms. Beliza, the jaguar at the Mesker Park Zoo.
Mayzie would touch the glass and climb up on the display area, and Beliza would reciprocate. Mayzie was completely un-phased by the gigantic teeth or the fact that she was playing with a deadly cat through a glass surface. She giggled and had fun while a boy in a stroller behind us screamed in horror. Granted, this didn't follow all my above rules, but I definitely loved this play date for different reasons including the high cute factor.
For me, play dates are important. They remind me that I'm not in this parenting thing alone and that everybody's kids are a little wacko sometimes. They keep me a little more sane when I'm craving adult conversation, and make me so happy to always have something to do with the kids on those days. We've explored more because of them. We've discovered places we didn't know before. We've even learned all about how other people snack, which is always fun since my kids naturally want whatever snack the other group has. Most of all, play dates help me learn new parenting techniques, and don't we all need new ways to deal with the same old dilemmas that we face day in and day out?
For my girls, play dates are important because they learn to interact with other kids that aren't the exact same age as they are. They teach them how to share and that things aren't always fair. They are challenged to come up with new ways to deal with new situations, and that is an invaluable tool I hope they carry with them always.