The school holidays are on. It’s been a whirlwind of cheap Tuesday movies, baking cakes and cookies and endless play. And that’s just me.
The other day, my son was invited to a play date at a neighbour’s place. He could barely contain his excitement. But when I went around to pick him up a couple of hours later, he declared – and I quote, “I wish you’d come earlier. I did not have fun. Fred [not his real name] was out of control.”
I know that Fred is full-on. A full-of-beans kind of boy. A walking-talking bundle of energy. Heck, even his mum worries he is hyper-active.
My son, on the other hand, is an old soul. The things he says make me think he's sixty; not six. He can be engrossed and engaged in his Lego constructions for hours on end. He worries about larger-than-life problems. Rough and tough he is not. He’s the antithesis of Fred. So when Fred’s mum suggested the playdate, you’d think warning bells would have gone off in my head. Nope. I actually thought it was a fab idea for our two boys to hang out. Maybe their different personalities would rub off each other. My son's mellow to Fred's feisty.
Turns out, my son doesn’t want to play with this kid anymore. No, the boys did not wrestle each other. There was no fighting, pushing or yelling. They just did not have much in common. This puts me in an awkward position. I’m afraid to break the unwritten rule of playdate etiquette: When your children are invited to a playdate, you MUST return the favour.
I'm sure we'll bump into Fred and his mum again soon - at school, in the neighbourhood, at the shops. Do I extend an invitation for a play at our place out of politeness? Do I grin and bear it? Or do I just let it pass?
I know my son does not want a repeat of the playdate pandemonium. Truth be told, I'm not sure how I would manage a hyper-active child either. But would it be bad manners not to invite this boy over?
Does parenting etiquette mean that you have to return the favour for your children's playdates?