12 playdates from HELL!

Your child looks at you with beseeching eyes. Their best-est friend in the whole world pulls the face of the cat from Shrek. Next thing you know, you’re organising a playdate. These sound so lovely and innocuous. You have visions of yourself lying on the sofa reading a book while two small humans frolic happily in the sun. This sometimes happens. Occasionally.

Usually it’s this:

There are three levels of the special, fiery place reserved for parents on playdates. The first is – The Other Parent.

Many of us have met a parent in the playground or school grounds and instantly wanted to bond with them. What could possibly go wrong when forming a friendship with someone who has a child the same age and who attends the same school?

Holly had just moved to a new area where she felt really out of place. She was younger and more, well, liberal than the other parents so when she saw another mum at the gates she was dizzy with joy and immediately arranged a picnic.

“I got the wrong place as I’d only lived there for about two weeks,” says Holly. “She was angry and, I think, stoned. She talked about star signs and spiritualism and criticised me for changing my surname when I got married. Our kids had a fight. I fell in a hole. We ran out of things to say after about 13 minutes. We never spoke again and I had to face her every day at the school gates.”

Thando, had a very similar experience. “I had just moved my daughters into Grade 01 and one of the mums hurtled across the school yard toward me and introduced herself,” says Thando. “She came across as really sweet and we immediately organised a playdate. On the day, however, she brought out a rule book. An actual rule book. And gave it to me to read saying that I had to make sure I stuck to these rules around her child otherwise it wouldn’t work. I played along, but I’ve been avoiding her ever since.”

Control freaks to the out of control – some parents don’t seem know the rules.

“We’ve had an awful lot of parents not arrive to fetch their children, sometimes for hours and sometimes they’ve even left them overnight!” says Karen. “I’ve often thought of calling social services to collected abandoned spawn.”

“I had a mum invite herself over, waffle on about how my house was smaller than her one-bed flat and critiquing my furniture, and then start eating the lunch she had brought with her,” says Georgina. “She actually went through my cupboards for plates and knives, didn’t offer me anything and then would not go home!”

Maybe her flat was too big?

The second level is, of course, The Other Child…

It’s never easy knowing what kind of child will be arriving at your home when you plan the first playdate. It’s a gamble. A risk. A chance!

Bring wine.

“We had a young lad come round and wee in the sink,” says Tracey. “He was about eight. I told him off and made him clean it. Then the twins had a girl come round for tea who refused to eat any food and announced she was bored at every opportunity. I’ve had kids draw on walls, drop toys out the window on purpose and flush things down the loo. God, I hate playdates.”

“We used to live next door to twins who had appalling table manners,” says Heather. “They often came to tea and I had to avert my eyes. The boy would take a sandwich, split it, lick off the filling and the butter and then nibble a bit of the horribly spitty and soggy bread.”

We hope it isn’t the same twins.

“I witnessed a child lick every cake on a plate and put them back,” says Kendo. “His grandma said, ‘Aw, he’s only a baby!’ and ate a few of them. He was about six…”

“I once had a child come round for a sleepover and refuse to eat anything I made,” says Patience. “She kept saying, ‘I don’t like that’ and then moaning about how hungry she was. Then she proceeded to tell my daughter that she wasn’t very nice, kicked the cat and, in the middle of the night, woke up screaming and crying so I was forced to drive her all the way home at 1am.”

The third level is, of course, The Parent Child Tag Team.

Many parents have sleepless nights over the idea that their offspring could be monsters when left untended, however, in some cases the parents are to blame. They do nothing…

“I caught a lad of seven or eight at a birthday party thumping another child,” says Alan. “I complained to his father, an aggressive lawyer, who said: ‘I was like that at the same age and it never did me any harm’.”

Well, quite.

“A girl rubbed her orange face-painted face into my cream sofa while her mother watched!” says Kelly, still outraged.

“A few years ago some parents brought their young child to a party and let the child run around totally unsupervised,” says Olivia. “The child pulled the strings out of my sister’s vintage guitar and scrawled with black marker on my mother’s antique wooden sewing box and the parents never offered to pay to have the things fixed.”

Not to be outdone, Themba still rages about the time a child came to her house and rubbed baby oil into her son’s extremely expensive rocking horse. “It was made of actual fur and had a mane and tail and a leather saddle. This was the ultimate rocking horse and a gift from my parents. This boy rubbed the oil into the fur and as I asked him to stop, he stared me in the face, threw baby powder over the oil and smeared it over the mane. His mother was with me and she just said, ‘Oh boys, aren’t they just such a handful’, not a WORD to the child!”

Still think a playdate is a good idea? Make sure you pack a kit with plasters, fabric cleaner, wipes, a calm and even voice and two bottles of wine/vodka/rubbing alcohol.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

What are your hellish playdate experiences?
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