Play dates are a vital part of every parent's handbook. Over the course of 12 years of motherhood, I've hosted my fair share. The vast majority were wonderful. They were nice kids who played well with my kids. But then there are the others. This list is about those. Keep an eye out for these annoying kids and save your sanity.
Sadly I am sure my kids have been these kids from time to time. For those who have hosted my annoying kid, I am sorry. Really. If you find your kid is on the list take heart. You are in good company.
1. The friend: This kid wants to hang out with you -- and only you. He doesn't grasp that he earned an invitation to your home for one main reason: So he can distract your kid while you get stuff done around the house. Nope -- l'il Samantha doesn't get it. You send the kids off to play on the trampoline, and Samantha wants to know if you'll jump, too. You set the kids up with an art project on the dining room table, then retreat to the kitchen to start dinner. Two seconds later, Samantha is tugging on your apron, asking whether he can pour the macaroni.
2. The snacker: I like when a child comes over, chomps on some popcorn, then goes about the business of playing with my kid. That's not going to work for the snacker. He wants a handful of grapes, a bowl of Goldfish, a bag of pretzels and a cheese stick. Ten minutes later the snacker is back for some peanut butter sandwich crackers. The snacker is like the very hungry caterpillar, but considerably more annoying. True story: I once had a kid who ate me out of house and home, then -- with her mother present for pick-up -- opened up my cabinets and checked inside for a snack-to-go. The mom simply shrugged her shoulders and asked for sandwich bag. Neither was invited back.
3. The tornado: This is the kid who, five seconds into the play date, has transformed my daughter's Barbie Dream House into an "after" photo from Hurricane Sandy. Turn your back for a second and all the puzzles are pulled out. The Lincoln Logs are dumped and crayons are strewn. Incidentally, this is the kid who doesn't clean up, either. Nope, the tornado chews on books and rips out pages; carries toys from the basement and deposits them in your upstairs bedroom. It is almost like the tornado is mocking you because he knows you will go insane until every freaking piece is back where it belongs.
4. The talker:You know the Peanuts teacher? The one who only says, "mwa mwa mwa mwa mwa"? That's the sound you hear when the Talker comes over. The kid never shuts up. She talks about fairies and butterflies and flowers. She talks about books and plays and after school classes. She has to tell you about her camping trip with her grandma and oh-so-funny Uncle Jim. Then it's on to world hunger. And Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. And her daddy's trip to Milwaukee. The talker talks from the moment you pick her up at school until --three loooong hours later -- her mom arrives at your house. As you bid farewell, the talker's mom offers that exasperated I-know-my kid-doesn't-shut-up look, and you realize you only had the talker for a few after school hours. This parent has it far worse. The talker is her kid.
5. The indecisive kid: This kid doesn't know what she wants. Which smoothie would you like? Radio silence. Do you like Oreos? She's not sure. Would you like to stay for dinner? "Umm." Want to play in traffic?
6. The one who doesn't want to play anything:
Me: "Would you like to play a board game?"
Me: "How about painting rocks?"
Johnny: "No, thanks."
Me: "Oh, I have a good idea. Why don't you both make a huge fort in the living room with every pillow and sheet in the house? Go ahead a make a mess. I don't mind."
Johnny: "Nah, I did that yesterday."
Me: "Lego? Ping Pong? Foosball? Baking? Basketball? Juggling? Dress up?"
Johnny: "Nothing sounds that fun."
Me: "Then why the F#$& did you come over to play?"
(Admittedly, that last line was in my head)
7. The crier: I have no problem with kids who show emotion and cry when they feel genuinely sad. This is not the crier. The crier cries all the time. He cries when he can't go first. He cries when he gets softly knocked down by your excited dog (a wallet-sized cockapoo in my case). He even cries when the ice cream man is out of his favorite pop. As soon as you resolve one issue, another rears its head.
8. The precocious kid:Ah, a real gem. This is the one who teaches your child about tampons and sex. This kid knows about kissing -- with tongue. From this little darling your child learns words you have painstakingly kept out of the family vocabulary and euphemisms that would make a pimp blush. In one short play date the precocious kid exposes your dear and innocent child to the great big adult world out there. Now, at age 9, you have to schedule an endless list of reparative conversations about the birds and bees, how babies get here and why you can't get pregnant from sharing a swing in the playground.
9. The messy toileter:This kid couldn't find the center of the toilet bowl if you put up a landing strip with flashing lights and sunk neon Cheerios to the bottom. He dribbles pee around the toilet and leaves little brown smears around the rim when he wipes. He may or may not wash his hands, but he definitely doesn't use soap. He probably doesn't remember to flush or put the seat down either. Might be a nice kid, but he needs some home training, STAT.
10. The squatter: This is the kid who won't leave. Ever. The parent has said 15 times to get her shoes on and she just runs around the house. She can't find her socks. She left his backpack in the car. She thinks her super special bouncy ball is in your son's room. She has to go and check but that would mean taking off her shoes again. On and on and on and on.
A version of this blog previously appeared at The Family Coach.