But you can't just walk in a playgroup and be all 'Yo what's up!' Oh no - there's a system, an etiquette, a process. Luckily, I've gone before you and will now bestow my wisdom and then tell you how and why a mom totally upset the delicate playgroup balance when I hosted last week.
First, playgroups are for the moms. When your kid is barely walking and especially when they're not, let's be honest. You're going to these get-togethers for your own sanity and that's completely fine. In fact, it's necessary. Whenever Sofia hit a milestone or I had questions or concerns about things, I would ask my mom, then the playgroup moms, then the doctor if necessary, in that order. Playgroup moms are a wealth of information and if it weren't for them, I would be a much more neurotic parent.
Therefore, playgroups are a safe space. If you're in a good one, there is no judgement. You come to playgroup with the knowledge that you can say out loud that your kid is working your last nerve and you know that the other moms will chime in with how their kid was working their nerves just last night. Then they'll pat you on the shoulder, tell you hang in there and you feel recharged.
But most importantly, keep your kid in check. This isn't as important when you have a little baby and they just lay there but as they start to crawl and pull up, it's your job to make sure your kid stays in line and respects the playgroup balance. It's totally fine to play with the other kid's toys and explore, but you best not let your kid break something or hit another kid. At least not without being appropriately apologetic. I mean, kids will be kids but you still have to be the mom.
Last week was my first time hosting morning playgroup and I wanted to make a good impression. I had it all set up - I'd gone to the grocery store the day before and I was stocked up. I made smoothies, coffee, I sliced up fruit and I even made some healthy cookies for the babies.
I didn't know what kind of group it was going to be and I was nervous no one would show up so I was super happy when my girlfriend Kristin promised she'd be there. She's super cool and I knew if it ended up being just the two of us, it would be all right. Kristin's a down-ass chick and we really get along.
However, a couple of other moms showed up and it was nice. They were kind of quiet and I hadn't met them before, but they got plates of fruit and glasses of smoothies so I figured we were okay. We made small talk about our babies and it was pretty chill - not like my afternoon playgroup, but nice. It was a pleasant morning, the babies were chill - the playgroup rules had been met.
Then the boys came.
I have a ten-month-old daughter so my frame of reference as a mother is limited. My kid is super cool and I know her moves so we've found our rhythm. My afternoon playgroup is pretty well established, we know each other and the babies are all girls around the same age. I know what to expect.
So when this mom walked in with her baby, and her 2 *and* 4-year old boys I was a little taken aback. I mean, I knew them and I'd even been to their house, but that was *their* house. I honestly didn't think she'd bring her big kids to a baby's playdate.
When I tell you these little boys tore through my house? Straight up disrupted our safe space? Y'all. These bad-ass little kids took to running through my entire house and everyone knows that playdates only happen in the designated space. You don't just start running through people's houses taking their baby's books off the shelf in her nursery. You don't just dump out every single toy and run off. You don't open drawers just to see what's inside.
And you certainly don't eat off other people's plates. This little kid just smooth walked up to Kristin's plate and helped himself to her blueberries and bananas! Like it was no thing!
Am I totally dating myself with this reference?
Please say you know what I'm talking about so I don't feel old.
Or at least be old with me.
The whole time I kept wondering when the mom was going to step in and get ahold of her kids. But she seemed oblivious - isn't that how it always is? When the younger one ate from Kristin's plate, she didn't even reprimand him or tell him to apologize to Kristin! She was just like, "Oh, let's just get you your own plate."
I would have pulled my kid up sharp and let him know that you don't eat off other people's plates like you're Helen Keller or some shit. I would have made him apologize right then and then made him sit the hell down for a minute. *Actually*, I wouldn't bring my 2 and 4 year old boys to a baby's playdate. I would have taken the baby to a big kids playdate or the park or something, so they can run around and get all their energy out. She was constantly like "Oh no sweetie, come out of there, be careful of the babies, no sweetie don't do that, here why don't you sit down and eat that, don't drop the blueberries on the white rug, use your inside voice."
Inside voice my ass. But I held my tongue - they were her kids, not mine. My only responsibility was to make sure neither of them stepped on Sofia, which was a full-time job.
Until those damn kids started dive-bombing off the back of my sofa. Onto my hardwood floor.
What is it about boys that makes them want to climb things and jump off of them? Is that a genetic thing? I about had a heart attack when the older one did it first and of course then the younger one had to copy him. That's when I opened my mouth because there would be no cracked skulls up in MY house.
"Do NOT jump off the sofa." I couldn't believe I even had to say that. Who goes to someone else's house and uses it as a jungle gym?
Shortly after that, she rounded up her kids (thank god), but not before they opened my front door themselves and ran into the yard, nearly into the street. What the what?? Again, I was the one who was like, "BOYS. Inside. Now." I wasn't mean about it, but damn! When your kid is about to hurt themselves, somebody needs to speak up and I didn't hear her saying much!
Now let me not judge that mom. I don't know what was going on in her world and God knows, her hands were full. But come on! If you know your kids don't know how to behave in other people's homes, you don't bring them out! Take them to a park where they can jump off of stuff all day long! One of the other moms actually picked her baby up off the floor and held her so the boys wouldn't trample her!
After everyone left, Kristin stayed to help me clean up and hang out a little longer. We were both in awe of the havoc those two little boys caused and we jokingly thanked our lucky stars we have girls. Which of course means I've probably jinxed myself and my kid is going to jump off the roof.
Oh please baby Jesus, I hope not.
UPDATE: I'm not sure why, but anonymous comments don't show up through Disqus. I'm an equal opportunity comment-receiver so I wanted to make sure it showed up.
Here ya go:
Just wait till you have an older child or a boy and your whole world will change. You are totally in the wrong in most of this. Shut some doors, make some rules to the mom, etc. She most likely needed a small break with people that would understand..obviously not y'all. You live in a dream world if you think your kid will never eat of someone else's plate or jump or run or be loud. Seriously.
If I may respond....
Thank you for your comment, I welcome all opinions. However, I must respectfully disagree. Would you be okay with a child jumping off the pews in church? Eating from other people's plates at a restaurant? Not me. In my opinion, going to another person's house is on that same level, playdate or no. And shutting doors?? Closed doors aren't a deterrent to two- and four-year olds (which were closed, btw.) As for the rules to the mom, I didn't know I needed to tell her to keep her kids from jumping off my sofa, so no, I didn't say that ahead of time. If she did indeed need a break, that's what grandmas and baby-sitters are for. You don't take your kids to someone else's house as a guest and let them run wild because you need a break. That's bad manners, no two ways about it.