Are there/should there be rules and ettiquite for scheduling and canceling informal playdates? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 07:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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First, I'm not talking about REAL emergencies like someone is hurt or sick, etc. 

What I'm wondering about is how everyone handles play dates with people who are not quite great friends but not acquaintances either. The kids we are trying to get together are preschool/kindy age if that matters. 

Several times now I have had someone call fifteen minutes after they are supposed to be here saying they aren't going to make it today because the baby was cranky or they want to go shopping. 

Does this happen to anyone else? Do you do this? 

It very much affects me and my kids when someone says they will do something and then they don't - especially with very little or no notice. My kid is expecting to play with a friend. I have scheduled my chores and errands to accommodate that someone is going to be at my home for a few hours. 

These are not sisters or best friends that are open to just coming by anytime. These are actual scheduled play dates with friends from around town and moms groups. They go like this ... 

Would you like to get the kids together at my place on X day at X time? and the mom replying Yes, we would love to and will be there at x day and x time. 

 

Is it just me or this is really rude? Am I wrong to assume that if you are not at least decently sure you can be somewhere that you should let the other person know? 

 

So, how do you handle play dates .. both scheduling them and when people cancel?


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#2 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 07:29 AM
 
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I would not cancel because I want to go shopping.

 

If I cancelled because my child was "cranky", it would have been way beyond the average bad mood.  Either I was convinced that she was getting sick, or she was having a terrible horrible no-good day and a playdate would not have been fun for anyone involved.  It's unfortunate, but I don't think it was rude.


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#3 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 07:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just to be clear, while younger siblings are invited and/or it's assumed they will be coming along, the play date is for the older kids. Do most moms routinely tell their older kids that the baby being in a bad mood means that they have to miss time with their friends? Seems to me that would cause a lot of unnecessary resentment from the older to younger child. 

 

Also, while I'm in a bad mood because this just happened ... It is not one instance or one particular person. It seems there is a general leisurely kind of attitude of anything goes when it comes to this in my area and I'm trying to figure out if I'm expecting too much or if most people feel it's appropriate behavior.

To me, if someone has been kind enough to invite me to their home and I have accepted the invitation, it is good manners and my responsibility to do what needs to be done to keep to this obligation and if that's not possible to cancel in a reasonable amount of time. Again, I don't believe a few minutes before/after you are scheduled to be somewhere is the time to tell someone you are not going to be there. This isn't a group thing where there absence won't be noticed. They know I am expecting them and isn't it implied I have invested time to prepare for that? Like having food and drinks ready, tidying up and possibly having to move things around in my schedule to accommodate for the time I'll be spending with them.

I feel like this is a double edged sword because if I tell my child that their friend is coming and they don't come she is obviously disappointed and if I don't tell her she'll never know what to expect. It puts me in a pretty lousy position. 

So from that point .. what does everyone tell their children?

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#4 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 08:33 AM
 
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I got actually got to a point for a while where I did not tell my girls we were supposed to have a playdate because the chances of the other people actually showing up were slim. So no, it isn't just you. I've run into this a lot over the years. I finally came to the conclusion that it is just a different way of life. You might see it as concrete plans barring a child puking the middle of the night of course, another person might look at it as well, if nothing better comes along, then we'll go or if all the stars aline then we'll go. I'm more with you, I make plans and I stick to them unless there is a real, valid reason why i can not attend.  


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#5 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 10:24 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ilovemygirl View Post

 

They know I am expecting them and isn't it implied I have invested time to prepare for that? Like having food and drinks ready, tidying up and possibly having to move things around in my schedule to accommodate for the time I'll be spending with them.

 

Some of this probably depends on the personalities involved. I very rarely cancel once i've made plans, although I am a bit punctuality challenged (getting my kids out the door - even for something they want to do - can be an absolute nightmare). If I cancel, it's almost certainly because someone is sick. But, I don't really do a lot of preparation if people are coming here for playdates, and most of my circle are the same way. I'll make sure I have something to offer for food, but I generally only offer water, coffee or herbal tea (which I always have on hand, anyway) to drink. Most of us aren't "tidy up before a playdate" people - just not our style. I'd be very surprised to know that someone had done that when we were coming over, and I probably wouldn't think to factor it into my decisions.


That said, I can't imagine canceling because I wanted to go shopping! I might cancel if the baby were cranky, but that's only because a seriously cranky baby (I mean, enough so that I'd cancel) is almost always a sign that the baby is getting sick.

 

I really don't like it when people cancel at the last minute, though. It's annoying, and it's really, really hard to deal with ds2 when it happens. Fortunately, it's also very rare, and usually it's the other mom having car trouble or losing her keys or something. I don't usually tell my kids about playdates here, anyway - ds2 gets too wound up when he knows a friend is coming over, and it's easier to just let it be a surprise.


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#6 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 10:25 AM
 
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I think it is often a case of the other mom not realizing that small children can really look forward to things just as they themselves can. Maybe they never bother to talk to their own children about what the plans are, or maybe they really don't care about disappointing their child or the other mom's child. I've met some moms who will use the playdate as a sort of "carrot" to dangle in front of them as something they can achieve by "good behavior" such as cleaning their room, not throwing tantrums, etcetera -- and then will just snatch it away as a punishment, with no regard for how it hurts their own child or the other child.

 

I have one child who has always really looked forward to getting together with friends and, even from a young age, has always spent the days leading up to a playdate arranging her room and planning all the activities, so I would indeed have been depriving her of a lot of pleasure if I'd kept her in the dark about what was planned. For us, the best approach was to tell her about the plans but prepare her for the possibility that the other family might not come through. My other daughter looks forward to playdates, too, but doesn't seem to plan to the extent that her big sister does.

 

In dealing with a mom like the ones you've described, sometimes it's a case of determining whether my child enjoys being with the other child enough to make it worth dealing with a mom who's very inconsiderate and totally lacking in empathy when it comes to children. That's honestly the only way I can make sense of the behavior of any mom who continually cancels playdates at the last minute; I think she must not understand that kids are people, too.


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#7 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 10:27 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

 

 I very rarely cancel once i've made plans, although I am a bit punctuality challenged (getting my kids out the door - even for something they want to do - can be an absolute nightmare). If I cancel, it's almost certainly because someone is sick.

This is me, too. Getting out the door on time was especially difficult when my girls were younger.


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#8 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 10:40 AM
 
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Might be time for kids only playdates.
Could be the real reason was too personal.

I manage a neighborhood playgroup and it's pretty hit or miss. Could be a large group or very tiny.

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#9 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 11:19 AM
 
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Originally Posted by chel View Post

Might be time for kids only playdates.
Could be the real reason was too personal.

I manage a neighborhood playgroup and it's pretty hit or miss. Could be a large group or very tiny.

The OP has made it pretty clear that it's not just one particular parent who does this, or just one isolated incident, and also that it's not a playgroup -- but an actual one-on-one playdate for which canceling means essentially no playdate at all for the other child.

 

I see your point about parents being hit or miss about group playdates where they might feel like their not showing up won't create a major disappointment for anyone, but I do think it's mean not to show up to a one-on-one playdate when you've said you would.

 

About kids only playdates - the OP mentioned that these arrangements are with people who are more than aquantances but not really good friends yet, and she also mentioned that we're talking about preschool aged children. However, I suppose that if the other mom is comfortable about dropping her small child off for a few hours while she goes shopping or goes back home with her cranky baby, this could be a solution in many cases. Shopping is generally easier without a small child along -- but you'd probably want to be prepared that someone who doesn't seem very time-oriented might not be too careful about picking her child back up at the agreed-upon time, either. 

 

Still, if your child has a lot of fun with the other child, having what was supposed to be a three-hour afternoon playdate continue on well into the night might not be such a bad deal.


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#10 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 11:53 AM
 
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Oh, yes, I agree playgroups are different.
Was thinking more along the lines that maybe the other parents aren't that excited to attend, nothing evil, just maybe don't know the op well or another millions issues us parents might having going to someones house. Going back to my playgroups, that I was thinking but didn't post, the more "popular the mom/kid the more attended the playdate".
I think that if op offered to just host the kids, she might get fewer no-shows. As a more moderate mdc mom, I don't think that is too extreme to host a 4-5yr old without the parent.
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#11 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 12:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by chel View Post

Going back to my playgroups, that I was thinking but didn't post, the more "popular the mom/kid the more attended the playdate".

Ouch. Just out of curiousity, why did you decide to post it this time?


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#12 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 12:36 PM
 
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I ran into a lot of that when my dd was younger but once we started doing kids only playdates that stopped. I thing some of it does have to do with motivation to be around another mom. My desire to socialize was hit and miss when my dd was preschool age for a variety of reasons, especially for certain moms. I suggest starting to invite only the older children. Playdates without parents start around four to five in our area.
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#13 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 12:52 PM
 
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I think it's very rude. Now, that my dd is older, we plan play dates as the kids get off the bus, and plans aren't set in stone. In that situation, it's not a big deal.

I stopped telling my dd about possible plans if I felt like they might not pan out. It didn't seem ideal, but it was better than having her so heartbroken when things didn't work out. I had the opposite issue too... parents who came over even though their kids were clearly sick because they didn't want their kids to be upset.

I wonder if it would help to kind of test the waters and see how interested they are. Like mention you'd love to get the kids together some time and not mention when. Put the ball in the other mom's court and see if she takes the initiative to bring it up again and try to make definite plans.

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#14 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The kids only play date seems like a can of worms I don't want to open. I would never send my dd without me unless it was the home of a really close friend or family member until she is way older. So, it doesn't seem wise to ask for people to do something I won't do. Does that make sense? 

As far as the popularity goes .. I could give a crap if someone likes me or not. I'm not trying to impress anyone here. But if that's the case and I'm just unlikeable, why say yes to coming over anyway? Why not just make your excuse when I ask?


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#15 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 01:00 PM
 
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I think maybe some people just can't say no. My dh can be like that with some people. He'd rather have you think that he wanted to and changed his mind than think he didn't want to at all.

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#16 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 01:25 PM
 
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I would be really annoyed. A playdate means that my house is actually clean and that I had to clean it. Casual cancellations for "shopping" would cause me to never invite someone back. I can *maybe* see cranky depending on the age but it would have to be Exorcist level to cancel.

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#17 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 02:21 PM
 
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I agree that it gets better as kids get older and parents feel more comfortable with kids only playdates.

 

What is sometimes hard now when dealing with moms of dd1's friends (dd1 is 12), is that she really likes to have definite plans that, for example, one of her friends willl be coming to spend the night on a particular day, and some moms don't feel they can give a definite answer until that day or the day before.

 

This still seems to be an age where the moms talk and firm up the plans, although it's usually been initiated by the kids first. And, of course, I do understand that, especially with bigger families, moms don't always know, right off the top of their heads, what other activities their child or family might already be committed to. And I have one friend who says she needs to check with her husband to see what he's got planned for the weekend, and then I'll touch base a couple of days later because dd is really wanting to find out one way or the other whether she can plan for it -- as I've already mentioned, she's really into planning this stuff and sometimes she'll talk on the phone with her friends working out all the details of what they'll be doing -- and my friend will say, "He was so tired from work, I didn't ask him...I'll have to get back with you later..."

 

And then there is the mom who needs to wait 'til the last minute to make sure her child has ticked off all the boxes on the weekly to-do list. It's rough because I've discovered through experience that it usually works much better for our family, for a variety of reasons, to just have one friend over at a time. So if we're waiting and waiting on an answer from one friend's mom, it may end up being too late to make arrangements with someone else if she says "no."

 

I guess we are still really weird in that my family is hardly ever so busy that I can't remember all our commitments in my head. Oh, and we hardly ever have enough money for me to be thinking that my dh might have a big night out on the town planned for us at the same time that one of dds friends would like to see her. :)


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#18 of 40 Old 07-24-2012, 06:35 PM
 
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in the moms group I'm a part of, playdates are generally "group invites" so everyone in the group is invited.  If 1-2 people don't show up, its no big deal, there are other kids that will be there.  Sometimes they end up being one on one, sometimes a small group, and for more 'organized' playdates, even more kids (usually those are at a park or something, and the kids will divide out to play with whoever they want).  

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#19 of 40 Old 07-25-2012, 05:49 AM
 
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I think maybe some people just can't say no. My dh can be like that with some people. He'd rather have you think that he wanted to and changed his mind than think he didn't want to at all.

I suppose that there are a lot of people who feel this way -- and their tendency to say yes and then cancel at the last minute may be rooted in their belief that if they don't really want to hang out with the other family, nobody else really wants to either. So it doesn't occur to them that if they could make their excuse in a timely manner, this would give the other family time to arrange a fun get-together with someone else. They feel like they're doing the other family a kindness by allowing them to cherish the thought that "so-and-so really wanted to come see us but had something come up at the last minute."

 

I did have a situation recently where dd1 had agreed to attend a friend's birthday sleepover, but as the time drew closer, she realized that she didn't feel comfortable sleeping in the same house with this friend's older brother, and I'm sure getting her period also factored into her uncomfortable feelings. We still attended the party and dd just explained to her friend that she was cramping (which was true) and just wanted to sleep at home.

 

I am actually quite sympathetic about kids having second thoughts about a sleepover, and feel this is one area where everyone needs to be prepared that a child might decide that she doesn't want to stay for the duration. But when it's my own child having the second thoughts, we still do what we can to come through for the other child.


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#20 of 40 Old 07-25-2012, 06:07 AM
 
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Ouch. Just out of curiousity, why did you decide to post it this time?

Lots going on in my house, sometimes it takes awhile to post and I leave things out.

Not the intention to imply op was not liked or anythine else negative, but that she even said, wasn't great friends with the other parent. As a pp said, sometimes people have a hard time just getting to do stuff with their good friends and to do stuff with the next tier of friends, no matter how wonderful they are, is even more difficult.

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#21 of 40 Old 07-25-2012, 07:48 AM
 
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I seldomly ever schedule playdates in advance of more than a day or so. If someone wants me to come over "next monday at 4" I tell them, "We would love to, let me text you closer to that day just to confirm that DD isnt sick/ in a funk/ ect.". I try to look at playdates more as time hanging out with the mom, so I wouldnt cancel for no reason any more than I'd cancel on a new friend for a beer somewhere. Sometimes we have to cancel, mostly if DD is sicky or if she has just been throwing an absolute fit for days. I always send a text or call at the beginning of the day when i know that we arent going to make it.

I've had a couple of people no show on me for playdates, but they never solidly confirmed that they were coming. IMO, if someone says they are coming its super rude to cancel last minute without a good reason. And just not showing up? I'd not invite them again. I cant schedule my life around people who dont even bother to let me know they arent coming.

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#22 of 40 Old 07-25-2012, 10:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I suppose that there are a lot of people who feel this way -- and their tendency to say yes and then cancel at the last minute may be rooted in their belief that if they don't really want to hang out with the other family, nobody else really wants to either. So it doesn't occur to them that if they could make their excuse in a timely manner, this would give the other family time to arrange a fun get-together with someone else. They feel like they're doing the other family a kindness by allowing them to cherish the thought that "so-and-so really wanted to come see us but had something come up at the last minute."

 

I'm very rarely surprised but I have to say I'm OMG shocked at the above. Does anyone other than narcissists and lunatics really go through this line of thinking when dealing with people? 

I never saw any of this as a popularity thing. Are the majority of the mothers really doing that sort of thing? I mean these are adults with jobs and kids and responsibilities and yet they are still worrying about who is likable and if other people are willing to hang out with so and so? I don't know .. I guess I'm being naive or maybe have too much faith in people but I just can't see a bunch of grown women playing little girl games like this.

 

As far as the rest of it goes... I agree that children should be able to change their minds about an uncomfortable situation or really that anyone should be able to change their minds about anything but I can't help thinking it's rude and inconsiderate to not keep the other people you have made a commitment to in mind as well. And yes, I feel like an adult should be able to handle telling someone no and saying what they mean and should be honest about what they will and will not be able to commit to. I guess my whole point is, if someone doesn't want to spend time with us that's fine but have the decency to tell me that and move along instead of inconveniencing me. 

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#23 of 40 Old 07-25-2012, 08:44 PM
 
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I think it's rude too.  If someone cancels 15mins before/after a scheduled playdate, they'll never get invited again.  I don't mind the time wasted preparing etc, but my DC would've been very disappointed if that happens.  I find it inconsiderate to both the host parent and child.

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#24 of 40 Old 07-26-2012, 06:47 AM
 
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I never told my daughters about scheduled playdates when we did them. For the main reason, kids can wake up with fevers that morning, or things happen when the playdate dosent happen.

I agree, parents who cancel 15 mins before mainly because someone is cranky or she forgot etc is not someone I want to hang out with in the future. In my mom days I remember one particular mom who would wig out on 75% of organized activities or be late 100% of the time for whatever reason. We always included her in all the emails inviting for the playdate, park day whatever but didnt hold off on anything knowing she would arrive 1/2 way thru because of a nap/phone call/fever/whatever you can fill in this area would keep her. She was also not someone I would do one on one things with because of this unless I would already be there for whatever reason. Such as I went to the mall and was going to walk it in the winter. I need the excercise so I went . If she showed up, great I had company.

 

 

We have known couples like this over the years as well. Schedule a dinner out on Saturday night to get a phone call literally a few minutes before the meeting time to tell us they woke up with the flu- you could call this morning???? Once, heck it happens, twice- sorry no longer want to schedule nights out with you.


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#25 of 40 Old 07-26-2012, 05:31 PM
 
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I hate when play dates get cancelled. Last weekend, we got the excuse that the other family's errands took longer than expected. When we had talked in the morning, we had scheduled a play date for 1 pm. 1pm arrives, I get a call and was told that they needed another 2 hours. So I took DS to the pool, got back about 3, tried to call and got no answer. Hubby was home so he would have told me if they called. Didn't get a call back till after 4 and by then everything was out the window.
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#26 of 40 Old 07-27-2012, 07:59 AM
 
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To answer the original question, "my" rules are the same as for my own social engagements. One time can forgiven as an anomaly; after that it becomes a pattern I don't care to repeat. I don't appreciate having my time wasted, and even though there are other things I can go and do, it's still a waste of time to set a date and prepare for something that doesn't happen. I don't continue to make playdates with people who have set that pattern -- we either do it in a group or we don't do it at all. Maybe that will have to change when DS gets older and he chooses his friends more without me knowing the parents, but for now I am fortunate that most of his friends have moms that are my friends, and those moms are all on the same page as I am. There is one exception, a very close family friend, who is not altogether reliable. But b/c I know this, I can work around their unpredictability b/c most of the time they are exactly 40 minutes late but they always show.

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#27 of 40 Old 07-27-2012, 08:29 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ilovemygirl View Post

 

I'm very rarely surprised but I have to say I'm OMG shocked at the above. Does anyone other than narcissists and lunatics really go through this line of thinking when dealing with people? 

I never saw any of this as a popularity thing. Are the majority of the mothers really doing that sort of thing? I mean these are adults with jobs and kids and responsibilities and yet they are still worrying about who is likable and if other people are willing to hang out with so and so? I don't know .. I guess I'm being naive or maybe have too much faith in people but I just can't see a bunch of grown women playing little girl games like this. 

My statement was in response to the poster who said that her husband would rather have people think he really wanted to come but something just prevented him from coming at the last minute, than just make his excuses as soon as he knew he wouldn't be going.

 

I don't know if the people who do this really think all that much about it -- at least consciously. I honestly suspect that they don't really put themselves in the other person's shoes to the extent where they can realize, "Hey, if I'm not going, the sooner they know it the better because they'd probably like to invite someone else." But I do think anyone who honestly believes that the other person would be better off believing they were coming until something came up at the last minute, must be carrying some unconscious assumption that everyone else perceives the other person/family in the same way that they do -- meaning, no one else would want to get together with them anyway.


Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#28 of 40 Old 07-28-2012, 06:59 PM
 
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Some of this probably depends on the personalities involved.

I agree with this. Some people do as you do: rearrange their schedules to make time for the playdate, clean the house, prepare food, etc. Other people are more fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants types.

I fall more into the second category. I am not going out of my way to make my house immaculate for a playdate. It is generally clean, but it will look lived in. I am probably serving light snacks, but short of making sure my fridge is not running on empty, I'm not doing any major prepwork here. I'll put out some fruit, which may or may not get cut while I sit at the kitchen island with the other mom talking over a cup of tea. There's always cheese in the larder, pretzels in the pantry, carrots and hummus in the fridge. But none of that requires any work on my part. My schedule is flexible and not planned out, so if someone were to cancel on me, I haven't really lost much. Yes my child may be disappointed, but we have playdates all.the.time, so a little disappointment now and then won't kill her, and we can then generally fill that unexpected time with something fun and unexpected, so general, no harm, no foul.

As to when I would cancel: certainly in the event of sickness, even when the other party would brush it off as just the sniffles; if my child were in particularly bad humor; if I had an upcoming event that I was ill-prepared for (going out of town, haven't packed; no gift for bday party that afternoon, etc). If it was a playdate that a great many people were attending, and I felt that our presence would not be greatly missed, I might cancel for lesser reasons (need to grocery shop, etc).

That said, I have learned over the years that there are people who fall into the first category, who are planners and schedulers and who do better with plans not subject to change. I have even lost a friendship over it. I have learned that this can be a sticking point, and so when making plans and indeed when making new friends, I am open about who I am, generally saying something like, "I'm generally always late. I'm terrible about returning phone calls. I'm scatter-brained and spontaneous. If you can handle all of that and take none of it personally, let's set it up."

Are those behaviors rude? Some people would say so. Personally, I feel that it goes to intent, if something is done with malicious intent, then yes it's rude. Speaking of myself, I don't feel rude. I have character flaws, these are some of them. Some people can handle them, other people can't. They can certainly be confounding. The thing is, I am more than that too, of course. I am a very good listener; a problem solver; a person who will always step up when a friend needs me; a very loving and engaged mother who attends to the children of friends with all the love and dignity I give my own child; and a person generally well connected in the community (not in a name-dropping way) so that I can generally always connect people with someone else who can fill a need for them.

The bottom line is that we have to learn who we are as parents and as people and find people who are compatible.
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#29 of 40 Old 07-28-2012, 07:04 PM
 
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Everything I wrote above notwithstanding, if I cancel very shortly before we're due to arrive, then it can be assumed that I am at a feverpitch for one reason or another. This means my change of plans would have been unexpected even to me!
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#30 of 40 Old 08-06-2012, 08:01 PM
 
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For us, when a playdate is scheduled, it's set. A group date, that's different, could come or go, but one-on-one is a date. I am often a bit late, but people know this and lots of others do it, too, so it's no biggie. I would not cancel last minute unless I couldn't start the car. If I were running terribly late, like 30 mins, I would call to let them know, but I would still go. I cannot tell DD1 that a friend might be coming until right before they come b/c she does not handle things being canceled very well. I know the other things in my schedule such as trips or birthday parties. I make sure I'm prepared for them b/c the playdate is also important. Even the loosest parents I know are still reliable about showing up. I do have one friend (not a mom friend, a neighbor) who is quite unreliable and I learned to stop making plans w/ her a long time ago. I still like her, but it pisses me off & does prevent us from becoming closer b/c I think it is super rude.


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