On the few occasions when Sean and I have gone to McDonald’s for lunch, I can’t help but to notice the tables of young moms happily chatting and visiting while their children are off playing.
Everyone at the table is leaning in and engaged in a lively conversation. While their children are off playing. How do they do it? How?
I have been invited to a handful of these kinds of play dates in my short tenure as a mother, and I have to be honest with you — I do not enjoy it. I find it to be very stressful.
In order to be a play date pro, you have to be able to carry on a conversation and remain oblivious to the fact that small children may or may not be setting the place on fire.
You know who would do great at play dates? Those guys in the pits on Wall Street, the “yellers”. Those guys would be fabulous, because to me that is the equivalent of a play date – a maelstrom of noise and activity and incomplete conversations and littering.
I was told that after I became a mother, I would learn to filter out the noise. Still waiting.
And it’s not really the noise so much, it’s that I’m fully aware that where two or more children are gathered, one of them will dream up something ridiculous to try. And at least one grown up should be paying attention. And if I’m involved in an in-depth conversation about Capri pants, I can’t know if/when some kid decides to see how far a soda straw will go in someone’s ear.
So what usually happens at the play date is I try in earnest to focus on and participate in the conversation with the other moms. I do. But out of the corner of my eye or ear, I’m painfully aware that my child, or someone’s child, is running with scissors. Towards a busy street. With an open prescription bottle. And some matches. And that I should probably try to stop them as opposed to listening to a fascinating story about the Capri pants that are on sale at Target.
And the urge to turn around and find out what is sending a signal to my momtennae is unbearable. So I end up cutting the conversation off awkwardly and abruptly to tend to unattended children.
Of course, when you are in the habit of turning on your heel and running away in the middle of an adult conversation, you don’t get a lot of invitations.