There are five children in my house right now and miraculously I am sitting at the table writing with a cup of tea. Play dates are a new thing for us. I've had vague angst about having kids over, that they'd be bored, or brazenly speak truth about how messy things look, or say they don't like our house or food, slander me to their parents, and not want to come back (ha!).
Maybe it is the term, itself, "play date." Why don't we just say "play" -- the noun and verb that frees up our children and names the afternoon. Instead we have weighty "date" trailing after like an anchor. Last year I attended several "play dates" in which there were pre-made snacks on pretty plates, brand new art kits laid out, and board games already set up -- a date, indeed. For a while after those (traumatizing) dates, I bought that having kids over had to look like that, so we simply didn't have kids over. Somewhere along the lines, though, just recently, I remembered what it was actually like to play with friends, to lie on the basement rug and toss the question back and forth, the list of choices, to tease ideas out of our own aimlessness and play:
What do you want to do?
I don't know, what do you want to do?
I don't know. what do you want to do?
I don't know.
Well, we could draw...
Or play hide and seek, or make a fort...
Or we could go for a walk or...
Bored or not, we wound our way to our own fun, every time, or we got in a fight and went home only to love each other again the next morning. So thankfully, I've been freed from the momentary fear that play dates were, in fact, all about me. It's so much more fun this way. Whew.