Emma Waverman writes about the chaos of modern family life. She is the co-author of the family cookbook Whining and Dining: Mealtime Survival for Picky Eaters and Families Who Love Them and is hoping to one day finish her certification as a parenting coach. She lives with her three kids, ranging from tween to grade schooler, and husband in Toronto. Emma has written for a variety of national parenting and lifestyle magazines and newspapers. When she's is not making typos, telling you what she thinks, and thinking about dinner, you can find her on Twitter at @emmawaverman. You can contact Emma at embracingchaos@hotmail.ca.

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Bad Playdates Happen To Good Parents

Just like potty accidents and a bag of spilled Goldfish crackers, bad playdates happen. Kids don't get along, toys break and worst of all, parents disagree.

Whether or not we want to admit it, our kids, and more likely we parents, are the cause of many bad playdates. 

The upside is that there is nothing as satisfying as doing a debrief with a like-minded mom about a bad playdate. Just like the post-mortem after bad dates, picking apart the threads of what happened can be hilarious and a needed ego boost.

One mother has taken the debrief to a new level, starting Badplaydate.com to detail her hilariously bad experiences, which she says number in the thousands. I don't know where she finds these people -- like the mother who lets her children play poor, or the one who believes children need to dress for success from toddlerhoood on. 

I'm sure there was a time when playdates weren't about enforced socialization and quinoa muffins. Judy Arnell, a parenting expert from Calgary commented in an article in the National Post about playdate culture (an article I was quoted in): 

"Playdates are not for playing anymore, they’re more for nurturing children’s growth and socialization and there’s like a goal to them rather than to just have fun and enjoy them for what they are,” she said. "In terms of brain development, toddlers don’t need playdates," she said, "making the expectation that a child will learn to share if they’re shown to by a hovering parent completely unrealistic. At that age," she said, "the playdates are really more about the parents — and when the children get older, they choose their own playdates, whose parents’ child-rearing style may be the polar opposite of another’s."

I personally prefer a drop-off playdate where the children play with little intervention from me. Sometimes the chemistry with the other mother/caregiver/father is such that I want them to stay -- but this definitely the exception, not the norm. As the Sh*tty Mom in this video implies, I have playdates so I can have some me time, not social time. 

A few years ago, one of my kids' friends had a very obsessive parent who constantly stayed and chatted and then would follow-up with many phone calls, to discuss things like gift suggestions for my spouse and blog ideas. I had to hide from the parent and now my child is no longer friends with the kid -- all because the parent was over-the-top.

But the kids didn't play that well together anyways. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Any bad playdate stories to share?

Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote about science's ability to make superbabies. But do we want the power?

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Reader Comments (7)

When my older daughter started school I ran into a mom of one of her classmates at church. She suggested a play date so I invited her and her daughter over. They wouldn't leave, they were here for seven hours. The mother invited herself and her child for dinner. My husband had to run to the store to buy extra meat because I didn't have enough out for two extra people. I expected that they would be gone by dinner since they arrived at 12:30. The women spent the whole time telling me why she hates her husband, why she wouldn't have sex with him, complaining that she has no friends and a whole bnch of other super personal things that one doesn't tell someone they just met. They kids were left to play on their own which was fine with me but I think I would have rather been talking to them, she was insane. Then the calls started. All the time, everyday. If I didn't answer she would keep calling back. Then she falsly accused an older boy of bullying our children. Her story changed six times and my daughter defended they boy and said nothing happened. He was her bus buddy. All he did was get her on the bus while that mother's kid was wanting to hug my daughter excessively. She even came to my house and wanted to try to convince my 4 year old to change her story and tell it to the school. After that I stopped answering the phone at all when she called. It took four years of not answering before she stopped calling. Then she started harassing my daughter at school(she volunteers). She would contantly ask my daughter when they could come for a playdate again. Once even going so far as telling my daughter that her daughter was coming for a sleepover that night and that if I had a problem with it I had better call her. My daughter was five at the time and came home in tears. Luckily it was the end of the year and they weren't in the same class for the next couple years. The teachers are also aware of the problem and can keep an eye. The kids are in grade five now. If the woman asks my daughter now my daughter tells her she is always busy. Since then I have heard other families had a similar problem with her. She even tried to set another mom up on a date with her husband.Unfourtunately her daughter is turning out just like her as far as being controlling and clingy. The kids aren't mean to her daughter and they still include her when they play at school but most keep a little distance after school. That was my daughter's first playdate with a school friend, after that one all the other playdates were a piece of cake! I will take cranky kids, bossy kids, fussy kids, whiney kids, messy kids, kids fighting etc. as long as I never have to deal with another stalker mom again!
January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC.J.
I'm a new mom (my son is 8 months) and I just don't understand the whole "play date" thing...why does everything have to be so scheduled...can't kids just get together and play??
January 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterliz
I had the opposite happen to me. I was invited to someone's house with my two kids. They played while the mom and I talked. Then she said she was going to make dinner. So I told the kids to help clean up because we had to go. She insisted I stay. Why I have no idea? So I said I'd stay until the kids were done cleaning. It was like she wouldn't let me leave. Even at her kids birthday party once, I stayed to help her clean up after everyone left. Her and her husband got into a fight. I said do you want me to go. She said no. Something personal like that I think you wouldn't want an audience. So I stayed outside and cleaned up then thanked them and left. She always talked behind my back even after I did nice things for her and said my kids were bad. Meanwhile her kids were sitting outside screaming obscenities. Thankfully my kids changed schools.
January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterME
My oldest is 10 and we still have to organize play dates. As they get older it becomes even harder to make sure your child gets to hang out with his/her own same-age peers, once they all have their hockey and ballet and violin lessons several times a week. Some playdates have to be planned weeks and weeks in advance. The day of the teachers strike was great because nobody had plans and all the kids went to one house and had a blast all day long.
January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarol
I have had more than my share of the stuck up, biotchy moms and their ill-mannered kids that hit, push, scream, don't know how to share and are generally hellions, while the moms gossip and ignore the unacceptable behaviour of their kids. I got fed up with going to a couple of groups as they advertised that they were friendly and welcoming to newcomers but when you get there, they ignore you for the most part as they already have their "high school mentality" group of mom friends, and are trying to "control" who their kids' friends are too, it was a clique!!! The only time they stop to talk to you is when it is a snide remark to ensure that you are singled out. Their kids will take away toys from your kid and they won't correct their child. Thankfully after a couple of bad experiences I found an excellent group of moms and kids, but it took awhile. Good luck to everyone, hope you have a better experience than my daughter and I!
January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSally
As an "older mom" ( over 40 ) with a toddler, I find it hard to find other kids for my child to play with. Most women my age have careers, and the moms with toddlers are all 20 years old...so they really don't want to " hang " with me. lol.I have gone to many sites offering "play dates" in my community...only to discover that the "hosting parent" wants you to PAY for the date. One mother ( who I contacted through a well known website ) told me that we could come over based on a very tight schedule. She would pencil in play dates two weeks to a month in advance. Then, when you got there, your child would be shown the basement where various "toy" musical instruments were offered. Your child was allowed to play with these toys for 15 minutes while you have tea or coffee upstairs. The child was offered a juice box as well...taking up 5 minutes of play time. The kick was that you had to pay $10 for this !!!Our city offers an indoor playground ( that you pay to use...includes swimming pool time, ice skating, etc )which is an excellent idea on cold winter days. I find this place intolerable though. Most of the kids seem to be around 5 and up ( very few times have I seen toddlers ) and are accompanied by their nanny's...who don't supervise them. They sit in their little groups ( speaking Tagalog which I don't understand ) leaving me out and leaving my little guy exposed to children who push, curse, etc and are never disciplined. More than once I have asked a staff member to enter the area and speak to these people about supervision. It shouldn't be left to me to take care of 16 fighting kids...I'm not getting paid for it...but they are.We also have a cafe where you can take your little ones...but you have to pay for them to use the toys...while you drink over priced mocha's.They have closed ALL of the McDonald's with play areas now, and turned them into mochchinnolatte places. McDonald's figured that by doing this that "poor, young mom's" could have a "cool", "in" place to have coffee. Great! But what are the kids supposed to do at McDonald's now? Oh wait...silly me...they aren't McDonald's anymore, they are McCafes...ugh. They are no longer "family friendly" or child-minded...they are for 17 year old moms and "on the go executives".Think it's time to move to someplace new.We live in a small cal-de-sac. The few other kids in the area are all over 6 and they curse up a storm. My little guy can't play outside as the boys behind us chant all sorts of nasty things. Normally they don't come outside to play until 10 P.M,( even on school days ) so it's not too bad until summer hits...and then they live outside. Where are the parents? If you look through their open windows, you can see them in the kitchen drinking and smoking "funny stuff". The only time the parents yell at the kids is for taking dad's munchies. Ugh. Pretty sad when your child can't even play in his own yard.We DO have three little girls in the neighborhood...but they certainly don't want to play with a boy...unless they can ride his little car, have ice cream, or play on the swing set.Anyway...I find it extremely difficult to find other children for my son to play with ( without paying )because of my age, so I find things for him and me to do together. Skating, skiing, swimming, etc...but I find that he's much clingier than my older ( adult ) kids.He's starting a pre pre-school thingy soon ( again, it's paid for )...it's once a week for 6 weeks...two hours. Hopefully this will help him to get his "fix". He cries all the time because he wants kids to play with him...even if it means playing with the kids that hurt him and break his toys.I even went so far as to try a Church Tea...where you go into the church basement, drink tea, and chat while the kids play together. Very uncomfortable. Some of the women were my age ( the grandmothers )so that wasn't too bad...but the tea is only held in one church...that I am NOT a member of...which made me the "odd woman out", esp when they were talking about church functions. One or two of the older women noticed my unease, but the younger ones would always interrupt our discussions...apparently appalled by the fact that I wasn't one of them...even though the sign says ALL welcome.My heart aches for my poor little man.
January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessie
LOL, I was never invited to play dates when I was little. (I'm almost 15 now.) I didn't like other kids, they all seemed to be so immature to me.
January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNerdette

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