You know how it goes: love the mom, but her spawn has surely sprung from Satan's loins -- or conversely, you adore the child but his mom is so insufferable you can't believe they're from the same toxic gene pool.
Playdating is also more painful than dating, because all the imagined slights or rejections are magnified when your precious child is involved -- and therefore, taken all the more personally. I hate the process so much I'm tempted to live like a shut-in, turn on Noggin and feed my kids bag after bag of Pirate Booty rather than to subject all of us to another bad playdate.
But the reality is that most of us don't have the luxury of sending our kids outside to play unsupervised with the neighborhood riff raff while we kick up our feet and watch Oprah. Unfortunately, parental involvement is expected in the playdate scene today.
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But here's my cheat sheet of playdates profiles to avoid at all costs and how to recognize them before one or two dates becomes a relationship that becomes impossible to extricate yourself from.
1. Drop and go mom
This mom isn't looking to make friends, she's just looking for a free place to unload her kids for a couple of hours. At first she'll stop and chit chat over coffee and then she'll slyly glance at her watch and say, "Do you mind if I run to the bank really quickly while they're playing so nicely?"
In time, as she becomes more comfortable, this quick errand will turn into the entire afternoon. This wouldn't be such a bad arrangement if it were reciprocated -- but she's far too busy farming out her kids to other families and their nannies during the week.
2. The loiterer
The loiterer is generally a lonely soul so deprived of adult company that she and her child linger long after the last call at the juice bar. She blithely ignores the increasingly urgent hints that it's now bath time and bedtime, and continues to follow you around blabbing incessantly while you scurry around the house cleaning up.
>> No more playdates | Real Moms guide
Meanwhile, the kids are sick to death of each other and are at each other's throats and you're wishing you had a security detail to escort them from the premises.
3. The "baby call"
This mom only calls without any notice, late in the afternoon, when she's bored and lonely and any mom will do. You wish you had the courage to say no, but admittedly, those so-called witching hours do pass quicker with company.
Afterwards, you feel used and hate yourself for being weak... until she calls again and then the same dysfunctional cycle repeats itself.
4. Stalker mom
This mom is hard to shake off if she has a hard-on for your company. She just doesn't seem fazed by your barrage of lame excuses. Or she won't take no for an answer and isn't discouraged by multiple refusals.
I had one stalker who made my life miserable at my son's preschool. We were pregnant at the same time and sadly, my daughter was born at 24 weeks and didn't live, due to congenital heart defects.
Afterwards, this mom-friend clearly meant well, but she had a misplaced sense of survivor's guilt: She tried to expiate by inviting me to playdates with her newborn daughter. She didn't seem to understand that it was painful for me to see her holding her newborn daughter so soon after I'd lost mine.
Read about bad playdates moms 5-9 on the next page!