Rosemary had a friend round to play on Friday afternoon, someone who hadn’t been round before. While she was here, I started thinking about all the different kinds of playdates there seem to be and how I was probably building up a collection of favourite children to come to play, depending on the situation.
First of all, there are the friends who bring their mums (and quite often their younger brothers or sisters). For these playdates, I get to drink to tea and have a chat. They can also be quite tiring, because many children of Rosemary’s age tend to get a little bit annoyed when their mums are giving someone else attention and may be noisier, messier or more disobedient. When there’s no mum there, I have more opportunity to keep an eye on things and persuade them into an occasional tidy-up, as opposed to mess-up session. A playdate with mum and siblings almost always results in more tidying up later on.
There are playdates with friends who have as much energy and as small an attention span as Rosemary. These also result in a big mess, and frequent tears, because they’re running about so much one or other of them inevitably gets hurt in some way. They fly from one activity to another, running up and down the stairs and Wesley tends to go and hide up in the office.
There are playdates where nothing is played with, but the two of them spend the time running around, jumping on each other and shouting ‘Ben 10!’ at the top of their voices. This is great in terms of limited mess, but it’s impossible to leave Eleanor on the floor and it really, really hurts my head. There are also usually a lot of bumps.
Then there are playdates, like Fridays, where the two children play together reasonably quietly and calmly. Where they stick with each activity for at least 10 minutes, if not longer. Where I can leave Eleanor in the room with them and they’ll amuse her and/or keep an eye on her for a few minutes. Where they take turns without any prompting, and need little or no guidance in what to do.
Needless to say, I like the latter ones the best. But I do also really enjoy the accompanied playdates, if I’m not too tired and don’t have too much of a backlog of housework that’s going to a) be very noticeable and b) mean I’m going to have even more tidying to do at the end of the playdate.
I think Rosemary probably prefers those with friends who are similar to her in energy levels and likes and dislikes, despite the frequent meltdowns over sharing and what to play next. Though she enjoys them all, so I don’t think I need to worry too much about encouraging my favourites!
What about you? Do you have a preferred playdate type and is it the same as your child(ren)’s? Do you try to have a mix?