Saturday, February 25, 2012

Playgroup

Sofia was about five months old when I went to my first playgroup.  These groups are vital to a stay-at-home mom because day in and day out with a baby as your only company can get pretty isolating.  I'm super lucky that my neighborhood is home to the oldest PTA in Texas and once you're plugged in, you're money.  


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."

Nah playa.

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.

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28 comments:

  1. Ummm no and ma'am! Maybe you don't judge but I do lol You are a parent for a reason your job is to watch your kid and protect them from harm! Honestly as isolated as I am, that is the reason why I have not taken my son to a play group. The boys were just doing at your house what they do at home! Your not old, I do know Bebe's kids and those my dear were Bebe's grandchildren!

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  2. 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.

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  3. Oh, you're totally right, they were just behaving like they did at home! And I have zero problem with that - at your own house. When you're not at home, you behave differently. Of course, I don't have boys but I'd like to think that even if Sofia behaved that way, I wouldn't take her out until she understood rules like 'no jumping off of sofas' and 'no running out into the street.'

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  4. I don't think it's a matter of them being boys! It's about how this woman (and her husband) raise their kids (or don't in this case). Boys do like to run around and jump but if taught good manners, they can be totally respectful of others, as much as girls. I have a 4 year-old boy and we would never let him act like that, even and especially At HOME!

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  5. I'm so proud of your hosting skills! :) I can't believe the bad parenting that's out there. I also can't imagine bringing kids to a baby playdate. Why would they enjoy that? Seriously. Some people. :)

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  6. Katie @ LovesoflifeFebruary 25, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    So basically. I totally hear you on this. And I'm about to be a mom of two girls (thank you sweet baby jesus)....and I can say that from what I've observed I *HAVE* seen a genetic difference b/t the wiring of girls vs boys. Yea. NOT EVERY BOY IS RAMBUNCTIOUS like that, but most? Are. From what I've seen anyway. I hate to say it but I've been guilty of not inviting certain people over b/c their kids literally tear apart my house and it stresses me out more than it is fun. And so on that front, I hear you. However, There are parts to the anonymous comment I agree with (not the nasty parts), but just how extremely different it is as they age. My baby did nothing but bat her eyelashes and gain the ooh's and ahh's of people for months about how precious and sweet and angelic she was. But those damn toddler years will smack you in the face so fast, well, they did for me. And there have been a crap load of words I've eaten...things I've said I wouldn't do...or react...or ever let my kid do...and I don't necessarily mean basic manners stuff, but yea-stuff. They will get into stuff. And embarrass you sometimes. I just agree that it's about how the parent handles it that makes most the difference, so I agree w/ you there. Also? If you respond to this comment, I NEVER see responses through disqus (which I hate)--who has time to go back and read comments a second time or remembers which sites they commented on?! (maybe I am missing something...) ANYWAY. If you respond, just email it to me so I can see it :) And I totally winced at the blueberries on white rug thing. lol

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  7. to quote Dwight from RHOA, "how dreadful!" And I cannot BELIEVE those mothers or that mom was not mortified and corrected that behavior immediately. That is not about "boys will be boys" that's some bs!! Teach your children to be respectful of their things at home AND other people's property an dbelongings! Heck, teach them to be respectful generally. That is unacceptable! Children are not wild animals. Train them, teach them, correct them when they are wrong and give them understanding. I just cannot imagine this entire episode I just read about. For sure that mom and her sons would have been nicely asked to leave my house!

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  8. i think the jumping off the couch is a boy things... i have a boy that is 2 and i would NEVER allow this type of behavior. eating off other peoples plates and running thru the house is a no no. i often skip things at people houses b/c yes my child will be the child to run crazy thru others house. i have a very hyperactive boy but i would NEVER EVER think this beahvior was acceptable nor would i ever allow him to do this stuff. i think you are right that you should never have had to satate that jumping off the couch was a no no or that running thru the house was off limits. parents should just know ... osrry person above but you should be an adult and know this sort of thing. i think you were right to do what you did, some people are just rude and dont care. i hope it goes well next time

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  9. I have two wild boys but I would NEVER EVER allow them to be wild in someone else's home. My boys are 8 and 4, my girl is 6. I'm no "virgin". I have been through the motherhood wringer. But there are manners, and there are lack of manners. Bringing them was the first mistake. Maybe she needs adult convo, but too bad. Find a group where those boys can be themselves. I don't blame the boys, I blame the mom. When we are at a friend's home and I say, "Settle down," they settle down. The first time. And if they don't, we get in the car and leave that minute, and that's the honest truth. You are totally in the right to be annoyed by such behavior.

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  10. p.s. favorite line of entire entry: "nah playa" HAHA!!!! laughed so hard and said it out loud a few times too!

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  11. When my sisters and I were that young my mother put us in check and needless to say we knew how to act when we were in other's homes. The host didn't have to discipline us cause my mom would snatch us straight up and we'd apologize and get out act together. So whoever made that "anonymous" comment is the one living in the dream world. It's the parent's responsibility to make sure their kids know how to act or sit them down somewhere. That's why people's kids don't know how to act these days. Kids are kids, but parent's are parents and should teach they're kids no matter how old they are to respect others and their homes.

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  12. I don't think it's a matter of having boys either, it is parenting and lack there of. In my small mind your kids are a reflection of how you choose to live your life. I have an 11 month old son and live in an apartment and there is a little girl above us who must be brushing up on her gymnastics everyday and night lol! Boy or no boy my son is not and won't be allowed to run through the house, thats what outside is for. Children have to be taught to respect spaces and things worked hard for. To me this is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. As a child I was not allowed to do certain things in the house, that was the rule and I KNEW better than to even try it at someone elses house! Kids will be kids and parents should be parents!

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  13. Yikes! My playgroup is not at someone's house and I'm still in the newborn phase, so I haven't experienced this yet.

    And thanks for stopping by my blog--it's nice to 'meet' you too!

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  14. I came out of my hidey-hole to completely agree with you. Who does that?!?! I know I wasn't brought up to ACT OUT when I went over to someone else's house. And if you're in a dream world...I'd hate to be somewhere else. Also, I know Bebe's Kids. xo

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  15. Babs (Musings on Motherhood)February 27, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    I have to say, the mother was wrong for not disciplining her children. BUT let me say that it's easy to judge when you have one sweet little girl who isn't even walking yet. I have a toddler and she is a HANDFUL. She knows no boundaries and it's not because I don't teach her, she is just so carefree and curious. I would have to spend all my time chasing her at other people's houses. And eating off other people's plates? My girl would do that in a heartbeat. She LOVES food and doesn't understand that all food is not hers.

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  16. I've got to agree with Babs. My three year old boy is a straight up handful. It doesn't matter how many times I discipline him, sometimes it just doesn't work. Most of the time, he listens great and is well behaved. But he has some crazy bad days out of the blue. BUT when he does, I do try my best to discipline him appropriately. That mother should of at least tried to discipline her boys. But it is very easy to judge..until you have the wild child. And in our playgroup, eating off each others plates is totally acceptable so idk what to say about that?

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  17. Uh, that lady was wrong for letting her children run around and act that way the entire time they were there. No ma'am. She should've stopped their running amok - period. I don't know anything about handling three children and won't pretend that I do, but I'm one of four - the other three are boys - I can guarantee that we/they did not act like that out and about. Were we/they perfect? Nope. But we knew how to act and if we needed a reminder, we got one from my mother - I cannot imagine her ignoring foolishness the way this lady did.

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  18. So now you need to set rules for people who come in your house? really? what that whole things shows me is that the mom lets her children so whatever they want. It's not just because they are boys, its because they have NO RULES. My child is 2 and she doesn't go eating off anyone's anything and she sure as hell isn't climbing on anyone's furniture. You know why? Because SHE knows the rules and she has since she was very small. She knows better. If you don't teach your kids to know better then they won't do better.

    Whatever, that anonymous comment worked my nerves trying to blame that woman's lack of parenting on you.

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  19. That was totally not cool!!! And I totally disagree with the anonymous commenter or anyone else who may think that you are the one that needs to take a chill pill. Yes, boys are so totally wired differently from girls starting in the womb. Yes boys are most of the times more active than girls (altho I have seen some girls that can tear through a house too with the best of the boys). But that does not mean that you can't train boys to be mannerable. I raised a boy - a very active boy - but he was trained how to behave in my house and therefore I never had any problems taking him to restaurants or other people's houses. In fact, since I wanted him to have someone to play with everyday I also babysat another little boy that was his same age whom I also could take anywhere with no behavioral issues. (At the time they were three and a half and three years old respectively). It can be done. Seriously.

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  20. Before I even saw the pic I said, them's Bebe's kids. I got stressed out just reading it. I agree w/comments about you don't know till you've lived it and eating words. Yeah, baby sleeps in carseat and we have swung her around in it (thx for the tip!) -- things I never fathomed I would do when I read them online. However, the parent or any caregiver has to be the one in charge, outlining the rules of how things work. Period. I used to watch my nephews one day a week from 7a - 4p. I read a piece of advice to tell the kids what's going to happen before you go out and it helps shape their expectations. I did that with my nephews and it worked. They never acted a fool with me and if they did, they knew we were going home. Of course I took them to do the fun stuff and kept it outdoors. Her kids sound like 'outdoor children,' as are my nephews. I let them dive bomb on my couch and even filmed them doing it, but still we had rules when we did it and never, ever would they think of doing it at someone else's house. I am appalled. If I am so blessed w/#2 as a boy and have some funky karma as a result of judging, I will come back and cop to it. *lol* (no, not working on #2 yet).

    Always love your posts!

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  21. haha...I know what you mean. My mom used to baby sit some single mother's kids and pretty much all of them were boys around 6-8 years old and they were SOOO ANNOYING. I was 14 at the time. But you will get used to it if you allow kids in your home. My mom had to lay some rules and tell them not to do certain things and suggest they do watch a movie or something because even though the mothers didn't say much when they were around she sure was not going to let disruption happen in her home and there were times she had let things slide because obviously the actual mother needs to be the mother. And my mom was not used to kids like that because it was just me and my sister and we were well behaved. So, it's some thing that happens when you let mothers and their kids come over. And it's important to take control of the situation and also make the best of it.

    I have a son and I can tell he is going to be wild but I would always make sure he behaves and is not disrespectful of people and their property. But since he is 8 1/2 month he can get away with being loud and go crazy on the floor because he is adorable lol.

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  22. Hi there!
    I have taught first grade for 4 years. That means being in control of 20-24 six year olds in one room all day long. The type of behavior you have described is completely unacceptable. It is the adult's responsibility to guide children on how to behave. If we don't show them, who will? And I can promise you when their children go to school their teacher's will not judge the children on their behavior. They will judge their parents.

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  23. whoa! i'm sorry, kids will be kids and i guess boys will be boys, but as the mom you still have to make an attempt to restore order and teach your kids how to behave. especially in someone else's home. that's just common sense (but i guess it's true what they say about common sense).

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  24. Those kids should've been jacked up, point blank. PERIOD. I understand the mama may have needed someone to share her burden but STILL let's do that in your own house. You do NOT allow your kids to come into someone's house and act a dang on fool!!!! Etiquette!!!


    And what is it with people who can block out their kids when they clearly disturbing the peace? iCAN"T

    P.S I know what Bebe's kids are. lol

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  25. Hollygolightlygolightly18caratMarch 1, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    Hey I agree with you. Parents need to control their kids full-stop. If a kid is uncontrollable despite the best efforts of the mum and dad then they need to seek assistance. Letting there wreck peoples homes is not cool. Eating off anothers plate is gross and rude. One mum says her toddler does it 'cos she loves food? well you need to start gently reprimanding her, mum. most kids do it at a stage BUT with consistent correction they learn its no ok. what if she picks something off anothers plate that harmed her? or was discreetly spat out by the plate owner?

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  26. All I'ma say is, kids might be kids, but as a PARENT in someone else's home, especially essentially a stranger?....nawl. That's on the parent. And Bebe's Kids will never be dated. :-)

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  27. Kuddos to you standing your ground and saying something when she wouldn't. I have a feeling this was a passive way of parenting that has now become a habit and is out of control and now she is too exhausted to deal. We are the parents, it is our job to teach, guide and correct. People try to keep quiet when it is not their kid because it is not their business, but that is why we have so many disrespectful people around us who take no responsibility for anything and hold no value in anything. It is not just boys that come into my nurse office and want to start jumping or romping around on the health beds...that behavior quickly is not tolerated by me!

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  28. That anonymous responder is ridiculous. The whole point of taking your kids out is to introduce them to the world and to boundaries. Let them play and reel them in when things get out of control. They do not get to walk all over the place and eat off folks plates. They learn to ask for what they want. They do not go into drawers etc. in other folks homes. They play with their own toys. Also, they do not rush out the door, they follow mom out. Are there perfect kids, no, and it does not seem that you were acting for perfection You wanted the lady to move and get her kids under control or at the least to try. That was more than reasonable to expect and YES she should have asked if bringing the older kids was ok.

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