Play date is a term I had to introduce to my mother. This foreign concept was a far reach from the days of my childhood summer vacations. I recall summers of daily walks down the street, carrying my favorite doll by one arm, all the way to my best friend’s house so I could knock on the door and ask if she could play.
Times have changed.
Play date has replaced what used to be “spontaneous playtime.” Years ago, if a child wanted to play with a friend, she’d casually walk to the friend’s house (most of the time alone), knock on the door, and ask if the friend wanted to play. Now, kids could be perceived as forceful or inconsiderate if they show up without calling and scheduling a play date ahead of time first.
There are various reasons why this play date change has occurred… safety, busier schedules, dual working parents, numerous sports and recreational activities, and many school requirements and commitments. Therefore, the play date has become a necessary evil.
Even more so, some parents of the younger kids are invited to “hang out” during the play dates. Joining in on the play date definitely throws more dynamics into the mix. Parents get more involved and watch their child’s every move while chiming in with suggestions. A generation ago, this was unheard of. Children dove into friendships and play, and they were responsible to deal with any confrontations that arose.
That brings us to a potential snag resulting from the formalities of a play date… After all the play date planning and preparing, what if a play date does not go well? If my child chooses, for whatever reason, to not play with a specific friend anymore, now you’ve got a parent who’s wondering why you’re not calling anymore. If things were the way they used to be, my child could choose which doors she wanted to go knock on. But now, with parents calling each other to do the arranging, these “snags” are obvious, and it all falls on the parents to deal with any play date issues.
It’s interesting to see how this cycle evolved and how the “play date” came to be. And, you can’t help but wonder if the concept will continue to carry on as our children age. Will life always be so busy and complicated that it will be unheard of to pick up the phone and call a friend to meet up for lunch, all on a minute’s notice?