The term ‘play date’ doesn’t even compute in my brain. Children are so busy they must have their parents keep a date book handy in order for them to make time to play? How could our society have gone so wrong? When this photo was taken of my friend that lived a few blocks to the north of us and myself we had never heard of such a thing as a play date. Now try to visualize this: one of us would jump on our bicycle, ride down to the other person’s home and either knock on the door, or politely yell, “Daaa…aaawn,” or “Phil…lissss.” There would be several different out comes from this singing of one’s name. 1. The person being called would come running out. 2. They would come to the door and say they had chores to do and the person calling would go to the next friends house. 3. The (usually the mom because dad’s would be off working during the day), would come to the door and tell the person calling they would be right out. Or 4. The mom would come to the door and say they couldn’t out to play for this or that reason.
We didn’t have to make a date to spent time outdoors, together having fun. We didn’t need to have our parents planning every minute of our day. We didn’t need our parents preparing everything little thing we ate or wore. We knew when it was lunch time and we would all split up, go home eat lunch and then meet back at who’s ever yard we were playing in or what sand pile we were building roads within. We knew how to run home and fix a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or maybe even a bologna sandwich. There was always a water jug and an ice tea jug in the frig for us to get drinks from. Heaven help us if we ever got caught drinking from the jug but we took our chances now and then. If we got thirsty when we were playing outside, we even drank from the garden hose.
We knew what time supper time was and we always made it home before mom started to wonder about us. In the longest part of the summer we went back outdoors after the dinner dishes were done ( hand washing and drying because no one I knew back then had a dishwasher beside us kids), we would go back outside and play as long as we could. I was one of the lucky ones and had a great yard for after dark hide and seek, so lots of the kids around would come down and we would play in the dark until mom would finally make me come indoors and the other kids go home.
The only kind of play dates I can remember were called pajama parties. We didn’t call them sleep overs back then. Girls would invite other girls over for a pajama party because everyone knew there would not much sleeping with 6 or more giggling girls. No one worried about hurting a boys feelings if he wasn’t invited, because it just wasn’t done and no boy I knew back then would have been caught dead at a girls PJ party. Unless later on it was trying to scare us by making strange sounds out in the yard. Of course we knew it was Bill or Tommy because we heard them laughing as they ran away before their parents or mine caught them.
Yes, we had organized sports back then and swimming classes. But we knew when our friends had to go to these functions. We knew when each other would be going on summer vacation with their parents and when they would be back. Our mother’s didn’t have to keep track for us.
How sad I feel that our lives have become so busy that everyone must have an activity chart. We were lucky if our parents could come up with enough money for one extra summer activity much less, softball, soccer, swimming lessons, karate and what ever kids these days are into. We really didn’t have to worry about doing organized activities because if dad was at work, and mom was busy at home, we all got together and played softball. If no one could take us swimming we played in the sprinkler outside in the yard. Soccer was something played overseas. We played football come fall. In the mean time we entertained ourselves.
Imagine that? Entertained ourselves with no computers, no cell phones, no tablets (except for paper tablets that we drew and colored on), no color televisions, much less DVD or VCR recorders. And if we made the mistake of saying we are bored, our mothers and fathers found us something to do that made us wish we had never said we were bored. Pulling weeds out of the garden or flower beds a few times and I learned real quick not to say I was bored.
I suppose all of this is leading to the point of just wanting people to slow down and enjoy life. Your children do not need to be involved in every program or sport our there. They do not need the latest and greatest new electronic device starting when they are two. They do not need your attention every second of the day. They do not need you to plan and organized their days minute by minute. Stop micro managing their life and that will give you some time to enjoy life too, with them.
I’m sure I will hear a bunch of people telling me it’s different now. Things aren’t they way they once were. Well, that’s my point. Maybe, just maybe, we have gone enough forward that to make things better we should back up a few years. I’m not saying to get ride of all the nice electronic toys, I’m saying slow down. Pick a few toys and activities and let your children be children and use their imaginations. Will they ever know the thrill of making a cardboard box fort or a snow fort? Will they ever know how much fun it is to run through the sprinkler on a summer’s day instead of making a play date so everyone can get together at the local pool or gym? Will they ever know how to ask permission to call their friend and actually ask the parents if their friend can come outside or come over to play? They won’t if you make play dates for everything they want to do.
Just stop it! Go to a help group for micro managing moms. Maybe I should start a rehab for that? I’ll call it MMM. That’s another story.