The Reality of Play Time

On Friday I took my children to story time at the local library. The children’s librarian tries a little too hard to pander to the adult crowd. While reading the books to the kids, she is sure to slip in a tale or two from her childhood. Most of the time, those anecdotes are met with silence. I mean crickets. It’s painful to watch, like a comedian bombing on stage.

During one of her stories, intended to make the adults laugh, I looked around the room. The moms were there, but not really “there,” if you know what I mean. They had all mentally checked out. It’s as if, knowing their children were safe with another adult paying attention to them, The Moms knew they didn’t need to be on the alert. 

Some moms were reading books (appropriate, since we were in the library), some moms were surfing their iPhones, and some were just staring, zoning out. It was almost like a Pysch 101 experiment. What happens to moms when they don’t have to be “on?” Of course, the experiment was short-lived, as story time drew to an end and all the moms were slapped right back to reality. There was a craft to be done, and moms must be totally “on” to partake in craft time. Little parts, choking hazards, glue and all. 

I’ve noticed this same phenomenon when more than two moms gather at another mom’s home. The kids run and play and generally wreak havoc and the moms just sit, recharging, hopefully with a drink in their hand. (This only works when the mothers know each other well and there’s no risk of “mother judging” which shall be discussed in further detail in another post someday soon.)

The mommy downtime scenario does not work, however, when two or moms gather with children in a confined public space, say, a coffee shop. This exact event played out Friday afternoon, hours after the serene story time. I met a couple of girlfriends and their children at a coffee place in Anchorage. It started out relatively calm, but after the drinks were gone and the kids were fueled up with sugar, the chaos commenced. And, sadly enough, it was mainly my kids creating the ruckus. My two older kids were pretty well-behaved. Well, they were alright. Okay, they didn’t steal or break anything or burn anything down. My toddler, however, became the poster child for why parents use those leashes on their kids. He was all over the damn place. And, I was chasing after him. And, it was hot in there! At some point, it occurred to me he might be grumpy because he was hot. So, I took off his shirt. I instantly became “that mom” who lets her kids out public, unclothed, and generally running amuck. Yeah, a shining moment for me.

Despite a day spent with friends, play dates and story time, I was exhausted when I got home. As usual, the kids were not. They ran and ran, Energizer Bunny Style, until we sat down and watched “Marley and Me.” And, if you read my previous post, you’ll see how well that turned out.

Moms and Dads- tell me about your play dates. Are they relaxing, like story time, or nerve-wracking, like my three kids barreling through the coffee shop, while I prayed they didn’t cause enough damage that I’d have to pay to replace something?


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. KalleyC
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 13:56:49

    I haven’t signed my daughter up for a play date yet. Still looking for a parent to pawn set one up with. Sounds like it would be fun to zone out for a moment without worry about the little one getting hurt.


  2. Lisa
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 23:28:51

    I am SO glad to have older kids now! I don’t miss those play dates at all. I always felt like I had to not only be ‘on’ for my own kids, but keep an eye on the kids whose moms were zoned out. (I AM an oldest child after all…it’s in my DNA;) Now I just zone out when the kids are WITH me. Do you know how many words the average teenage girl can say in a minute? How about 3 of them on a ten minute car ride home from school? Yep, I know your eyes are glazing over just thinking about it.


  3. Aimee Woodley
    Aug 20, 2011 @ 06:28:53

    I think we went to story time at the same library once – and I think judging by your other posts we live in the same area 😉 I don’t understand why she does that with her little anecdotes added – it was very awkward…


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