Like cigarettes, play dates should have warning labels.
They’re good for kids. They’re good for moms. The kids play, exercise, and socialize. The moms chat, bond, and commiserate about potty training, pre-school, and personal issues. Moms fill up the excruciatingly long hours between school and dinner (or between breakfast and nap time for the young ones). What could be wrong with this set-up? Play dates are a win-win situation for everyone, right?
I hate to pop your bubbles, moms, but I must. It’s my duty to inform you about Acute Onset Chaos* (AOC).
Acute Onset Chaos (uh-kyoot –awn–set – kay-os)
- The frenzy that ensues when your child/children realize how utterly exhausted and/or hungry they are immediately after a play date has concluded.
- The 30-45 minutes after a play date concludes when a mom hears nothing but crying, whining, and complaining from her otherwise perfect children.
- The 30-45 minutes after a play date concludes when a mom is asked to complete a billion different
requests ordersdemands from her tired, crying, whining, and complaining children.
In the event of AOC, don’t operate heavy machinery and don’t accidentally pour Pinot Grigio instead of milk into a sippy cup. (Come on, this has happened to you, hasn’t it?) For some reason, you never think AOC is coming. But. it. always. does. One minute you’re in a play date dream, and the next minute you’re in the middle of a tornado’s path with no place to hide.
My advice is simple:
- Don’t look your child/children in the eye.
- Don’t initiate conversation.
- Don’t fight back. Nobody wins during AOC.
- Focus on completing one task at a time.
- Find your happy place, especially when your child freaks out because, for example, you pressed play on the remote control to start a movie but he wanted to the press the button. Which brings me to…
- Reasoning is futile. Don’t mess around. Just figure out how to un-press the damn button. And finally…
- For Pete’s sake, use a life line if you’re losing the battle.
On Friday evening after my play date, I kept a mom friend on the phone with me as navigated the bedlam of AOC. Thankfully it was after 5pm, so in addition to my friend on the phone, I had some wine to help me weather the storm. For at least 30 minutes, I refereed fights over the television and which movies to watch, cleaned pee off the bathroom floor, fetched milk and juice (I want it now!), cooked macaroni and cheese (I want it now!), un-pressed buttons and performed other impossible feats, and kept the boys from killing one another (and me). And then as quickly as it started, the room grew quiet, the crying, whining, and complaining ceased, and it was over.