The Mercy Play-Date - OhBoyMom

The Mercy Play-Date

December 3, 2012 in Parenting

So, what do you do when another mom approaches you and asks if your child is free for a play-date when you know your child would rather sit home bored than go to this other child’s house? I’ll tell you exactly what you do: You make the “Mercy Play-Date.” You do this because you have the pity and compassion for someone else’s child who still may need his mom to pursue potential friends.

This has happened to me twice within the past month and I’m not claiming my son is Mr. Popularity and that everyone wants to play with him. All I’m saying is at the age of 9, Little Dude knows who his friends are, and he pretty much writes everyone else off. I say he’s being too rash, too judgmental and he needs to be more open-minded.  In other words, he needs to have a few Mercy Play-Dates sprinkled into his social calendar.

Of course I risk being called the worst mom in the world. In fact, after I scheduled his first Mercy Play-date a few weeks ago, he screamed at me, telling me he didn’t like that boy, didn’t want to go to his house, and would rather eat broccoli for breakfast than to go to that kid’s house.  After his rant was over, I made him go anyway. And guess what?

He had the BEST time. We initially set up a plan where I’d hang out and talk to the mom for a few minutes and if he wasn’t happy, he could give me the “signal” to leave. It never happened. I chatted with the boy’s mom for about 30 minutes and when I asked Little Dude if he was okay, he asked if he could stay longer. An hour and a half later, they had jumped on the trampoline, eaten lunch, and played with toys. All in all, the play-date was a smashing success.

So, the other day, when a different mom approached me for a play-date with her son, who Little Dude had never hung out with before, I said “sure.” The play-date was set for a few days later. Little Dude went nuts on me again, saying there was no way in hell (yes he did say that but that’s a whole other matter) he was going to that boy’s house. I reminded him of Mercy Play-Date #1 and how he had such a good time, even though he didn’t think he would. I explained to him that he has to give everyone a chance, and that we had this One Play-Date rule in our house:

Go on one play-date and if you don’t want to play with the kid again, you don’t have to.

Little Dude reluctantly agreed. As I write this, the play-date has not happened yet, but I’m pretty confident it’s going to be another successful time. If it’s not, our Mercy Play-Dates may be numbered. But, I figure I’m about a year away from Little Dude and his peers from making their own arrangements and then I can just stay out of his social planning altogether. This can work well as long as you have some patience for spontaneity.  Your child generally comes running up to you after school and says, “I’m going to Liam’s house. He said he’s free!” Of course, Liam may not realize he has a dentist appointment that day so then we have to hunt down Liam’s mom to find out if he really is free that day or not. Then, the negotiation of whose house works better that day ensues. By the time you have the logistics settled, you are frost-bitten from standing outside the school, and you’ve probably received a ticket for being illegally parked down the street. At that point, you ask for mercy from the play-date gods, but also give thanks for your child, who is actually happy about his social plan.

  

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Janine Huldie December 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Emily this was great and sure I will go through this someday, but right now Emma and Lily are more that happy to play with other little kids (any)!! Thanks for sharing and totally enjoyed reading this Monday morning :)

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ohboymom December 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Thanks and yes, you probably won’t experience this until the girls are older…at their age, you are right, they love to play with anyone!

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hanna December 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Hi there, I’m Hanna. I found you through the Sunday Blog Hop!! I am your newest follower. I love making new friends. Your blog is lovely!!! Happy Holidays:) You can find me at http://www.bouffeebambini.blogspot.com

xoxoxoo Hanna

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ohboymom December 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Hi Hanna, Thanks for finding my blog…I just went and checked out yours too — it’s fabulous! Happy Holidays to you too….

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Amy December 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Oh! I’ve done this too! I plead “just this once and you never have to go there again if you don’t have fun.” I’m so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who has to push a little to get their kids to branch out! I never thought to call it a mercy playdate…I love the name!

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ohboymom December 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Phew, I’m glad I’m not the only one either…when I posted this I wasn’t sure if I’d be the lone mercy play-date maker out there.:)

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Cyndi December 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I might not have kiddos, but your posts ALWAYS make me smile. :) Believe it or not, I’m urging my hubby to go on an adult “play date”. We have this friend who’s the husband of a good friend of mine. We love her but the husband creeps us out. He keeps calling my hubby to go mountain biking and I told my hubby: you don’t have to talk much, you just ride. After that, he’ll probably not want to go again because you’re so good. That seemed to do it. They haven’t gone on their “date,” yet, but…the wife and I have been friends for years. The husband however is a different story, lol.

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ohboymom December 3, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Oh that’s too funny about your husband’s “play-date.” I hope it goes well!

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Stacy Harris December 3, 2012 at 4:53 pm

My daughter is 10…. they are on the “I’m free” this evening schedule. In fact, last Friday there was all sorts of drama because of a planned sleepover that I said no to and the friend’s mom said yes too… I was suppossed to host. Well, my daughter had piano lessons right after school. Needless to say, both kids are probably grounded!

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ohboymom December 3, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Ugh, yeah I’ve been there with my older kids…who knew that scheduling their social plans could be such a headache?!

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Julie DeNeen December 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Wow. I’ve never had this happen to me yet. So either my kids are wildly unpopular – or they aren’t picky with friends- or they aren’t old enough yet! LOL. I would dread this scenario though too…

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ohboymom December 3, 2012 at 11:32 pm

I’m guessing your kids are not at that age yet, because trust me, it will happen eventually.

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Kelly December 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Ok this brings back some memories. I too, made my oldest girl play with this neighborhood kid who didn’t have any friends. I felt it was nice to do and I kept peeking out the window to see if they were having fun…it looked okay until the kid grabbed a huge tree limb and hit her in the face with it!! Ok it isn’t funny…but I went running out there like a wild woman and never made her play with that kid again. Lol. You just never know do you?

I think my case was a little odd…but weird…now that same kid is an adult too and he’s a big JERK…who woulda thunk it?

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ohboymom December 3, 2012 at 11:34 pm

You’re right, you never do know and I do feel bad forcing my son to play with a kid he doesn’t know that well, but I guess the key is to supervise, as you had done. A huge tree limb – yikes!! Glad she was okay…

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Heather O. December 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I am so familiar with the Mercy Play-Date… except I am the mom who has been known to beg friends to have their kids play with my kid. I have a girl who is a socially adept butterfly and a girl who wants very badly to be a socially adept butterfly… but is lacking some of the tools necessary to be a good friend. It’s a rough situation, and I am so grateful that MOST of our Mercy Play-Dates have gone well. I look forward to the day when my oldest has learned enough of the tools she needs that I no longer have to manage (and supervise) her social engagements.

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ohboymom December 3, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Heather, I have been the mom who begs too (for one of my other kids) so I totally get where you’re coming from. I think it’s why I insist on putting my son through these play-dates, because I’ve been on the “other side.”

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Cari Lorine December 3, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I love your play date rule. I think you qualify as a super cool mom for giving him a potential “out”, too. Everybody deserves a shot; he never knows who he’s going to be friends with. And with your 10-15 minute trial period at the beginning, he’s very lucky to have a mom like you!

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ohboymom December 3, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Thanks Cari, although I’ll admit I made the 10-15 minute trial period out of desperation…I was lucky it worked. But, you’re right, I feel like every kid deserves a shot to make a new friend.:)

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Stephanie @ Mommy, for real. December 3, 2012 at 11:15 pm

I was right in my Bloppy comment, I DID love this one! I was cringing in the first paragraph (that social stuff is super painful, isn’t it?) but so happy the outcome was successful. And I must admit I giggled when I read how your kid said “hell.” Tee hee. :)

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ohboymom December 3, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Yeah, I wish I could say using the word “hell” was a first, but ugh, it’s not.:( Anyway, thanks for your comment and you’re right, this social stuff for our kids is HARD!

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Julia December 4, 2012 at 1:10 am

I love this post! We have all been there and, more times than not, it works out better than expected. I have learned that my kids enjoy their peers’ company so much better than mine, although it was not so long ago that I was the center of their respective universes.

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ohboymom December 4, 2012 at 1:39 am

You are so right…my kids would rather play with friends than with me, which makes me both happy and sad.

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Melanie December 4, 2012 at 5:34 am

That’s a great idea! You know, you never know who in life is going to be your friend. My best friend and I have been friends for 15 years. We really didn’t like each other when we first met, but after getting to know each other better and not judging on first impressions – we became firm friends. I think it’s great that you’re doing this, and also giving him an ‘out’. Very cool! :)

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ohboymom December 4, 2012 at 6:24 pm

I’ve had similar experiences with friends — didn’t like them at first, but then we became best buds. I’m trying to teach my son to be open-minded, but it’s not easy!

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Vikki Claflin December 4, 2012 at 10:55 pm

I remember these from Jake’s childhood. Turned out to be some of his best friends. Great post!

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ohboymom December 4, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Yup and since I’ve had some negative first impressions of some of my own best friends, I’m trying to teach my son about giving people a second chance.

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Roshni December 5, 2012 at 5:35 am

wow! Your Little Dude is so much like my Big A!! He too will just write off everyone else, whom he does not know well!! I too wish he was more open-minded…not sure whether this is a permanent character trait or if there is a chance of him changing if I just keep pushing!

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ohboymom December 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Same with me Roshni, I’ll keep pushing too, even if it means whining and complaining are involved.:)

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Pary Moppins December 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm

What about the mercy play-date where the kid’s alright but the mom is a little off? ;) Found you through Bloggy Moms.

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ohboymom December 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Thanks for finding my blog! And yes, you are so right about playdates where you’re not so into hanging out with the mom. Luckily, my kids are at the age where I can drop them off and come back later, but when they were younger, yes that could be a trying situation!

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