I may not be a parent, but through my close friend Sara who is a mom (and like a sister to me), I am privvy to the nitty gritty of what it's like to be a parent. I truly get a bird's eye view because Sara holds nothing back, good and bad. Let me tell you folks, while there are many, many good, sound reasons not to have kids, especially in today's society, the requirement of today's moms to plan and attend PLAY DATES has to be reason enough not to have kids.
I am sure most of you know what play dates are, but in the event you are unfamiliar, essentially young children of today no longer go out to play like we did when we were kids (you know..."Hey Mom - I'm going over Suzy's house to play. I'll be back later for dinner"). No, their parents (usually mom) have to organize and schedule play appointments with other parents and their children. Children can no longer play without adult planning and supervision. Here's how it works:
Mother #1 identifies that Mother #2 has a child of a similar age and places a phone call to Mother #2 to schedule a "play date". This is done to ensure that her child has friends and an adequate amount of play time. At the appointed time, both mothers and their children meet at an agreed-upon place so that the children can play with each other while the mothers sit there and watch. During this time, the mothers talk about their children and usually one (or both) of the mothers tries to get a leg up on the other by talking up her child's achievements and development. The mothers also like to compare their methods of parenting, each positioning herself as the best mom with the best mothering practices. According to Sara, play dates are also used as a time for moms to bash their husbands and moms (like my friend) who are happy with their husbands and do not feel the need to bash them, are viewed suspiciously and are eventually wedged out of the play date network, hence resulting in a lonely child with no friends.
I was out with Sara all day yesterday (yes, she actually took a full day to herself away from the family!) and she spent a significant amount of time venting about the politics of play dates. I truly felt sorry for her and it broke my heart to hear the feelings of isolation she was experiencing, not to mention her concerns for her children who - because of her not fitting in with the other moms - are becoming social outcasts. Talk about mother's guilt.
I have to say - the thought of play dates instantly activates my gag reflex. Is there anything more awful to contemplate than being forced to socialize with boring yuppy moms that you have nothing in common with, in order to provide a social life for your child? And to bear the sole responsibility of your child's happiness and social development via fruitful political involvement with said boring yuppy moms? Honestly, I think I'd rather get a root canal. And is there anything more sad than the loss of childhood spontanaeity and the overscheduling of every minute of the modern child's life?
When it comes to play dates, nobody said it better than my favorite comedian, George Carlin (may he rest in peace). So today, I will leave you with George's take on play dates (and other modern parenting offenses).