Playdate Violence or Man Boot Camp?

Once upon a time, playdates were sweet. Where sugarplums danced around and mommies (donning nursing bras and frumpy clothing and smelling of spoiled milk but wearing lip gloss because we needed one thing to make us feel glamorous) got together for a little girlie time to talk while their little bundles sat quietly sleeping in their infant carriers or nursed or ate.

Sure there was some crying, but the infants remained separated from each other except for when the mommies took them out occasionally and did the whole, "Look, baby, here's your friend, this other baby!" And the babies had no idea what was going on and they reached out at each other and it was all cute and fluffy and we were all proud at how well our little angels played together and we patted each other on the back for what wonderful mommies we were. Our children were going to grow up with manners, with the built in resolve to share and keep their hands to themselves and be giving and happy and pleasant. All the time. Because we were great mommies.

And for a long while our children were happy, for the most part, in between feedings and diaper changes. Ahh, there was a certain amount of wonderful curiosity and peacefulness to these playdates.

And then all of a sudden, there wasn't.

I don't know what happened.

In fact, it's become the polar opposite of peacefulness.

Now there is runningandscreamingandhittingandchasingandinjuries. All in about a one-second span of time and then that turns into one big chain of runningandscreamingandhittingandchasingandinjuries, separated only by timeouts.

I don't know. Is it because they're all boys? Do 1, 2, and 3 year old girls have nice, quiet princess dressup tea parties? What are girl playdates like?? (It is very likely I will never know this, the number of friends/family who have two boys and have gone on to have a third boy is overwhelming, so please, do share.)

Because the last playdate at my house turned into an something of an all-out brawl. Four out of five children left with a head bump/bite mark/and/or emotional scarring.

Sure. We intervened when necessary. Of course we did. Remember, we're good moms. And we made the offenders fess up and/or apologize and/or face punishment for said behavior. Except for the younger ones because, well, they were the targets of said behavior mostly. Poor guys. But the rough 'n tumble, smacking non-sharing chaos jubilee was complete and utter madness. In my life, it went from peaceful babyness to toddler chaos in one-point-two seconds. At least it feels like it anyway.

And you can just forget getting a word edgewise in with the other mommies.

The playdates are becoming increasingly less fun for mommies. In fact, it's almost cruel to go to a playdate with other mommies you actually want to talk to because you can't! It's torturous! All you're doing is breaking up brawls and tangles ("Please share that! Find something else to play with! No hitting!" in between the constant, "Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy!" breath. "Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy!") We barely get caught up when oh. It's lunchtime or naptime. And/or the system begins to break down. You can always tell when this happens by the degree of crying involved. It increases exponentially when the children begin to expire, secretly longing for lunch or naps but completely unable to express or accept this.

Plus, now there are places I won't even go anymore until I can either corral or convince my children to stay together because chasing two children in opposite directions isn't really an option at these places and it could just turn disastrous. The beach is one of these places.

It's hard to tell just when the playdates turned a corner and became violent. I think it was sometime around the time that the children began to walk and claim ownership over their Elmos and ride-along vehicles. Basically when the word, "Mine!" (my personal favorite) made its appearance. But it's all a blur now. All I know is that it was nice once and now it isn't.

The good part is that none of us mommies judged each other or our children's behavior because we're cool like that (I think? Fingers crossed. I guess I'll find out when I host another playdate!) We were all in agreement that a little bit of roughing up is actually good for them. I mean, they're going to be men one day for Pete's sake! We have to toughen them up! We can't have wimpy men running around crying because Pauly took his astronaut pen that writes upside down or Joe got a promotion over him, right?? This is training here! It's like Man Boot Camp!

Ah, but such a fine line, right?

Be sensitive. But not too sensitive. No hitting! But stick up for yourself! Share! Except for when your playing soccer and you have to take the ball without asking!

It's all so confusing.

No wonder they're getting violent.

It's funny I ended up with boys. Ya know, what with being a girl and all. I know girls. This boy thing is all very new to me. I just hope I can get good at it before I screw someone up.

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