The First Play Date

Well, it’s been about two weeks since it happened, and I think I have calmed down enough to document what happened.

As the title suggests, my nooshkin had her first play date a few weeks ago.

Before you start thinking that this Restless Mama is horrible and deserves the most sarcastic Mother-of-the-Year award ever, the nooshkin has been on play dates before. The family across the hall has a three-year-old girl as well, and they happen to be in the same group at pre-school this year. They are really good together and are close to mastering the art of Frienemy-ship before they turn four.
Really, it’s an impressive thing to watch.

Anyway, they play together after school constantly and have done so for about two years (since the neighbors moved in). We take turns hosting, and because of the proximity the front doors are almost always open, so there’s a lot of back-and-forth. It’s cute; annoying, but cute.

It also means that, until now, play dates meant 30 minutes maximum and involved quite a few laps across the hallway.

So as far as I was concerned, this was the First Play Date.
Heck, let’s be honest, it was the FIRST PLAY DATE, caps lock and all.

The other mother and I had arranged this the week prior; I tried to remember play dates from my own childhood and from other mommy-friends of mine and figured that the girls would go home together after school, play for an hour or two, and then I would pick up the nooshkin and bring her home.

Well, I was right about the first part. Sort of.

The hubby suggested that I go to school at 2pm to facilitate in the send off, since it was out-of-the-ordinary for us (nooshkin is usually in school until 5pm). I met the dad of the girl she was going to hang out with, and we schmoozed for a bit while the girls got ready to leave. We all left together, and her suggested that I walk with them to their house. “Sure” I said. It’s not like I had anything better to do.

We all arrived safe and sound, and the girls immediately went to play. I was invited to hang out with the parents while they multi-tasked as only professional parents can do. In the span of two hours the girls played, I watched their newborn while the parents cleaned and made lunch and then ate said lunch since the girls were too busy playing.

It was a fairly relaxing play date; I was kind of happy with how it turned out and I was mentally prepared to have similar play dates at our house when the time came.

But then – the dad started packing a bag. With park equipment. And while I’m sure my face registered a mask of calm my insides were going “Wait one gosh-darn minute here!”

While the dad was packing the bag he said that they were planning to go to Park Leumi, a fairly big park that’s about a 5 minute drive away. I knew where the park was, and we had gone with the nooshkin a few times before. But I also knew that you don’t pack up a bag and put your kid in the car for a measly 20 minutes at a park.

Suddenly my two-hour chill session morphed into a four-hour plus adventure, complete with stale bread and ducks.

I did some quick mental calculations: we had already taken away the (initial) First Play Date with this girl because the nooshkin had misbehaved. But she had been so good for the whole week; I knew she was looking forward to this and she really had earned it. They had my phone number, and I had theirs.

So I smiled and said, “Sure. No big deal.”

I helped them take everything down to the car, and then pulled the nooshkin aside. I gave her a little pep talk, since she had never done anything with parents’ of a friend without either me or the hubby being within shouting distance. If she seemed nervous it didn’t show, and she gave me a big hug and kiss before she got in the car.
And they drove off.

There was plenty to do at home, but I didn’t want to get too involved in something. I kept telling myself that I was being ridiculous, that everything would be fine.

But I turned my phone on LOUD and kept my shoes on. I kept telling myself that it would be okay; nooshkin is a big girl, and she understood that this was something very extra special and was not about to screw it up.
But I still couldn’t calm down enough.

And then Whatsapp buzzed. And it was the sweetest, most reassuring sound ever.
Picture after picture after picture, of the girls at the park. Holding hands, feeding the ducks, running and playing.
The fist around my heart opened, and the worry evaporated and floated away like a lost balloon. I took a deep breath – I didn’t realize I was holding it! – and continued washing the dishes.

Time passed; I moved from the dishes to making dinner, to putting away laundry. And then I noticed that it was dark outside. But not pre-dusk dark; it was DARK. The clock said 6:10 pm and that lost balloon found itself attached to my wrist.

Trying to keep cool, I Whatsapped the mother with something innocuous like “Hey, how’s it going?” And I finally got a response five minutes later. “We’re on our way back, see you downstairs!”

The nooshkin was exhausted; the other mom said she was a really good girl and behaved herself. I beamed like the proud mama I am, said “Thanks, we’ll do this again soon!” and went inside.

I have no doubt that there will be more play dates in the future. But not for a while. Mommy needs to regroup first.

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