Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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The Playdate Debacle

Zoe entered the room, a sheepish look on her face and both hands behind her back.
This can't be good.
"Well, um, it was an accident, but...," she began.  I didn't care much for where this was headed, but I nodded, encouraging her to continue.  "When Annie* was over here the other day she pulled the leg off my doll, and when she tried to fix it..."

Unable to complete the sentence, she revealed what she'd been hiding: a legless Barbie Fairy torso in one hand, a single disembodied fairy leg in the other.  Apparently, Barbie was the gruesome casualty of a playdate we'd hosted a few days earlier.

Observing from the couch (and clearly noting the blood vessel starting to bulge on my forehead), my mom sent Zoe off to locate the other leg.

While Zoe was in her room looking for the lost limb, Jake piped up.  "That's not the only one.  Remember Noah**?  The Monster High doll?  His legs are broken off, too."

The blood vessel began to throb, and it certainly didn't respond well when Zoe returned with both dolls and all four legs.  It was immediately clear that the legs hadn't just been popped off - they'd been wrenched from their sockets, and there was no way to fix them.  Not to mention, Noah had also sustained other injuries.

"Oh Monster High guy, hold me - I'm frightened."
"For the last time, I can't  hold you - I have no arms."

I will admit that, at this point, I pretty much entirely lost my cool.  Maybe it was (both) girls' disrespect for Zoe's belongings, or the idea of wasting of money on these practically brand new dolls that Zoe had begged for only a few months ago, or my general irritation with the fact that Annie has a complete lack of an Indoor Voice.
Hormones may have been playing a part, too.
Whatever it was, something was getting stirred up in my brain, and the ingredients seemed to be the exact recipe for a steaming hot stew of Indignant Rage.  Zoe was sent to her room to clean it from top to bottom and was assured she wouldn't be getting any new anything  for quite some time, nor would she ever have another playdate for the rest of her life if she couldn't take care of her things.
Deep breath.
I've had a few days to cool off, and honestly it didn't really take that long.  First of all, it wasn't really worth getting THAT mad about, and secondly, even if it were, that's how my temper operates - I start in Volcano Mode right off the bat, and within minutes I can't even remember what I was mad about.

So here's my point.
We don't usually have a lot of playdates.  The kids have plenty of friends, and they go to the birthday parties and all that, but I'm wicked antisocial (I'll bet you guessed that)  so I don't know a lot of the parents.  That makes them essentially strangers, and in this day and age you don't send your kid to a stranger's house just because their kid sits next to yours at the school lunch table.  And I'm sure they see it the same way, so their kids don't generally come over to our house either - just in case I'm a whacked-out nut job.
I'm not the dangerous kind.
So to all you parents who rock the parenting thing and actually regularly participate in Playdate Society... is this normal?  Is a certain amount of toy carnage to be expected?  What do you do when toys do  bite the dust - more supervision?  Hide everything besides Play-Doh and other unbreakables?  Ignore it?  I'm afraid if I don't get some outside guidance, my antisocial side (as if it's just one side of me instead of 100% of my personality) will use this as a welcome excuse to outlaw playdates, which I'm guessing would probably be somewhat of an overreaction.

Thanks and hugs and kisses,
Once Again Proving I'm Under-Qualified For This Mommy Gig

*Not the friend's real name.
**Also not the doll's real name, because in reality the doll is named after a boy in her class.  But she DOESN'T HAVE A CRUSH ON HIM, so don't bother bringing it up 500 times like I have.

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sporkgasm said...

I am not a mommy, but I worked with kids for over a decade. Toys will get broken, and I think it's good to let children learn from natural consequences. You break something, you no longer get the joy of playing with it, and no one is buying you a new one because you didn't take care of your things.

I would talk to her about how the toys got broken though. If there's some child coming over and purposely breaking her toys, there might not have been anything she could do to stop them. Some kids are toy destroyers. Those kids chap my hide.

RobynHTV said...

Good advice! I really thought (still think?) this friend is a good kid, but last night Zoe mentioned something about this girl daring her to stick her head in a trash can and do some other things that could get her in trouble at school... Again, could be innocent 7yo good times, or could indicate this girl is teetering on the edge of Bad Influence. Luckily Zoe is pretty strong-willed herself and not easily influenced - except that means she's not easily influenced by ME, either! :) Thanks a lot for your input - I appreciate it!

The Third Partier said...

i'll give you some input. that kid is Trouble. let's not forget she triple dog dared zoe to kick the teacher when zoe balked at sticking her head in the trash. we don't have to outlaw playdates, but we do have to outlaw annie. at the very least, annie's getting a short but sweet lecture on how she won't be coming over again if she's going to behave in that manner.

RobynHTV said...

Let the record show that my husband is about eleventy thousand times more confrontational than yours truly. ;) I won't say that I wouldn't mention something to the girls the next time they got together, but I think any lectures should maybe come from the one of us who isn't super tall and muscular and bald and scary. #Don'tFreakHerOut #HerMomWillCallTheCops

The Third Partier said...

Okay, but if it happens again... And I'm not totally bald. #HerMomsFaultSheBehavesThatWay

Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point said...

I know that if I had a friend over that broke one of my dolls... uh... I mean one of my possessions, I wouldn't want that friend coming over again.

Also, I am now adding this post to my ever increasing list of reason why I shouldn't ever allow my kids (2 and 4 yrs old) to have any friends. I'm super paranoid about my kids being corrupted by others.

RobynHTV said...

I'm with you - I prefer to corrupt my children myself, without the corrupting influence of outsiders.

just keep swimming said...

I don't know how old your daughter is, but my 7 yo let's her friends come to our house and do stupid stuff and never calls them on it or asks for me to intervene. It makes me feel like she is almost as liable as the kid who does the stupid stuff. (I am a bit of an uncompromising hard ass.)
I don't think it should make you stop having play dates (unless you think this girl is an unsuitable playmate for your daughter). No, they don't need to be closely supervised. Yes, if your daughter cares about her shit she should try to stop another kid from ruining it and if she cannot, she should come tell you immediately. No, you can't yell at that child, but you can make sure she never steps foot in your house again.
Unfortunately, my 7 yo is the destructive one in my life (and it boils my blood). I just had to implement a rule that if she ruins something, I will take someone of hers that is of equal value to what she ruined and it will be gone from good. Nothing has been needlessly destroyed in a few weeks.

just keep swimming said...

I blame all my above typos on my iphone.
p.s. You might want to look at this: http://www.peopleiwanttopunchinthethroat.com/2012/03/my-rules-for-playdates.html
Your situation made me think of #12.

RobynHTV said...

I think that's part of what bugged me - that not only did my dtr not ask for me to intervene, she didn't care enough to even mention it for several days! And she wasn't hiding it because she thought she'd be in trouble; her demeanor and tone of voice were way too playful, like it didn't occur to her that it'd be a big deal. What you're saying pretty much goes along with what my instincts were - to keep an eye on the situation but not lock either girl in the basement (yet). And I love your eye-for-an-eye rule! I hope it keeps working for you. ;) Thanks so much for the advice!

RobynHTV said...

A) iPhones are jerks.
B) Thanks for the link - that list is too funny, and #12 was perfect. Though the list did make me terrified to let my kids ever go to someone else's house (so many ways for me to be mortified). :)

Kimberly said...

Toy carnage?
Well if it's any consolation my son beat up the birthday boy because he wanted to play with the toy HE bought the birthday boy.
Ok he didn't beat him up, he just gave him a few shoves...and the Bday boy was only 1z

RobynHTV said...

To be honest with you, that IS some consolation. :) Lawdy, we've all been there. At least I hope it isn't just us...

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