By Alice Bradley, REDBOOK
Once or twice a week, I get a call from a parent, usually a parent of one of my son's classmates or someone he knew from summer camp. The parent is calling to schedule a playdate with our children.
This seems so weird to me.
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In my day, kids decided whom they wanted to hang out with. Sure, sometimes the adults got involved, usually to hammer out the logistics of a get-together, but often they had little more than a vague understanding that we were going to a pal's house after school, and they should pick us up there. Or keep dinner warm until we got home.
But now I get calls from parents wondering if Henry is free on Wednesday, or whatever. And I always feel weird that they're asking me whether my son is free. Shouldn't their kid ask him? Doesn't Henry have any say in his choice of playmate?
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I probably feel extra-awkward about this because my son is, shall we say, discerning in his choice of friends. Overly discerning. He values his solitary play time above all else, and if he's going to give that up, it had better be for a good reason. If I haven't heard him explicitly rave about a child before I hear from that parent, the chances are good he'll balk at the notion of a playdate with them. And then what do I do? I am not about to reject the parent of a probably fantastic kid that my son hasn't taken the time to get to know.
So you see the uncomfortable position this puts me in. I am not my son's social secretary. If a kid wants to have a playdate with Henry, he should take it up with him. I see no reason to be involved.
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Besides, Henry's a lot less likely to dismiss some kid he's not that enthusiastic over if he's approached directly. After all, it's easy to say no when you're directing someone else to do it, but not so easy when you're the one hurting another person's feelings. And who knows? He might be pleasantly surprised by someone he had written off. At the very least, he'll have no one to blame but himself.
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