Play dates make me nervous. They always feel so much like “real dating.” It starts with a look, a glance between two Moms. An initial thought, "Check out that girl over there. She looks nice. Her kid looks clean.” After a bit of time, maybe a few days, maybe a few weeks, someone takes a chance and makes the first move. “We should get together sometime. Here is my phone number.” After the digit exchange, I know that it is best if I do not call right away. It is never wise to appear desperate at the beginning of a relationship.Although the play date scene can be a bit treacherous, I have persevered. There are days, especially during the winter months, when Giancarlo needs a buddy his own age to interact with. A good play date makes him smile endlessly, wears him out, and always results in a good day for both of us.
Given all of this, I never thought it was possible for play dates to have a downside…a dark side, if you will.
What do you do when things unexpectedly go wrong? When you are deep into the play date relationship and suddenly, without warning, the dating stops? No explanation, no phone call, no e-mail, no text. It is just over.
A fictitious case study:
Giancarlo and I have been dating “Fred and Sally” for many months now. Things have been going along great. Sally and I trade-off having our boys at one another’s homes each week. The routine is simple: play, eat lunch, and sometimes watch a DVD. I felt good about the relationship, confident that our dating would last forever.
Out of the blue a few weeks ago, Sally stopped calling. At first I thought she was simply too busy to return my calls. I tried to explain the unexplainable by making excuses: maybe she is sick, maybe Fred is sick. Ultimately, I came to the reality that maybe she is just not that into me.
Like any bad ending to a relationship, I have been racking my brain, attempting to figure out what went wrong. Naturally, I first assumed it had something to do with Giancarlo. Was it the time that he didn’t want to go home and I had to physically man-handle him to get him into his carseat? The screaming was uncomfortable. Or maybe it was the unsolved mystery of how Sally's brand-new, just out of the box plasma screen TV was rendered completely useless. Was it Giancarlo or Fred who threw the truck and destroyed it? We may never know.
As my mind has been working at warp speed this week, I also came to the shocking reality that perhaps I’m to blame. Did I profess my love for Sally and Fred too early on? I tried to be witty, comb my hair, and appear wordly and well-informed. Maybe I shouldn’t have encouraged Sally to read our blog. Was that too forward for the second date? I just thought that she felt the same connection I did.
Whatever the reason, I am sad and find myself desperately checking out other Moms wherever we go, trying to fill the void that Sally and Fred have created. I am dragging Giancarlo and Lucia to the park, even in the rain, and forcing them to look cute on command. So far, it is not working.
If only there was a sign, a way for me to look at another Mom and instantly know that we could make that dating connection.
How about a bracelet? Would that work? There are so many silicone bracelets available now for an endless number of causes. What if I created one for my cause?
I came up with a few ideas. I want to create a bracelet that not only establishes solidarity, but also says, "Hey, I'm a Mom and I am willing to commit. Let's be playdate pals forever."