Your Stories - Readers pull back the curtain on the chaos that bedevils all moms

Social Engineering a Child’s Playdates

The other day, my neighbor Kimberely and her two kids, Jack and Annabelle, were taking a walk. It’s been ages since Kimberely and I hung out, although our girls were inseparable since we both stopped working and became stay-at-home moms. Snow forts and hot chocolate in the winter, shared rides to the camp bus and numerous informal meals.

We were outside playing in the driveway and my daughter Ava shouted, “Annabelle! Hi!” Kimberley and her kids walked into our yard. We started catching up—about going back to school, the great weather and our summer trips.

“I miss you, Annabelle,” said Ava. “I never see you anymore.”

“I know. My mom said now that I’m going to third grade, I have to aim a little higher for my friends,” Annabelle responded. “I shouldn’t settle and you don’t like to do a lot of things besides play.”

“Oh,” said Ava. Without any malice, as if it all made sense.

Kimberely was mortified. “Well, I never said that, Annabelle. I just thought we might want to give the new girl Bella a chance so she doesn’t miss her old home and friends.”

Bella is the daughter of a wealthy corporate mogul who just moved to town. It started to sink in. My daughter’s rank on the playdate scale was just not high enough any more.

“No, Mommy remember you told me that I should play with someone who is motivated and sometimes Ava is lazy?” Annabelle asked innocently. Kids don’t get nuances. Then Annabelle turned back to Ava. “Bella isn’t nice anyway. She says everyone in this town is stupid. She plays on her phone the whole time and doesn't even talk to me.”

Kimberely was wringing her hands. “We’ve got to go,” she said. “Dinner is on, but let’s catch up soon. Kids say the craziest things, don’t they?”

Ava’s not mad, but I am! Moms micromanaging playdates for their own social agenda seems wrong! But then again, getting called out by your own child is something a lot of us moms have experienced and that stinks too.