Playdates from hell
I took a deep breath, curled my long arms around my infant girl and toddler boy and dove headfirst into the suburbs.
The three of us needed friends. Badly.
I found an online community of others like me - parents who needed local playmates, friends, a social life manageable enough to retain while drowning in diapers and Play-doh.
I woke before my alarm the morning of our first playdate at the community organizer's home.
I showered, carefully applied makeup, dressed in the least-stained thing I owned.
Breakfast was ready before the kids were. I was so nervously hopeful that I could barely eat.
We piled into the truck, drove slowly, parked a block away.
Watched the clock.
Then we unbuckled.
Please, please like me. Like us.
I carried the kids, the massive diaper bag, and a head full of optimism to the front door to ring the bell.
I rang again.
Finally, a shuffling.
A yawning figure in pajamas answered the door.
She had been napping.
What. The hell?
She offered no coffee, no tea. Suggested the faucet.
Trying. Not. To judge.
We brought snacks to share. She said they didn't snack.
Who doesn't snack??
She offered no conversation, no questions. Just random observations about her kid, who toddled around the room, barely acknowledging my kids.
The bell rang.
A smiling, thin girl and two little kids tumbled in, apologizing for being late.
Still, the hostess did not engage, did not play, did not open up.
The other girl and I would catch each other's eye - a raised brow, a Did she just say that? look.
Silences were long and uncomfortable.
Disappointment filled me.
I held up my wrist.
"Well, look at that! Time to go!"
Thanks for nothing!
I tidied, bundled, packed, and hurried to the door, the other mom and her kids hot on my heels.
The door slammed behind the six of us before we were even down to the sidewalk.
In the silent late morning, I turned to the girl who looked just as unfulfilled and confused as I was.
"Is it just me? Or was that totally frigging weird?"
"Not just you."
"She was a freak, right?"
We stopped and really saw each other for the first time that morning.
"Wanna go get some pizza?"
"Absolutely. I'll follow you?"
"Yep. See you there!"
Over slices of cheese pizza, shared Handi-Wipes, drippy sippy cups and a tower of crumpled orangey napkins, I found another hopeful, exhausted, frazzled mom just like me. Someone who never seemed to stop talking, rarely got to sit down, and had smears of who-knows-what rubbed all over her shirt. It was Friend Love at first sight, and we took it from there.
I've never been so happy to go to such a crappy playdate.