Play dates are all play and no veggies

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As the work-at-home mom-type person, I have become quite the hostess. Granted, not for cocktail parties, holiday dinners, or any gathering involving guests over the age of 10.
No, my area of expertise is play dates.
Play dates and sleepovers at our house tend to follow the same loose pattern. I pick up as many children after school as our minivan can hold. Note to designers: There is nothing “mini” about a vehicle that easily seats seven.
A real “mini” treat for mom would be something in the two-seater, possibly convertible category. THAT is a car a mom could have some fun in.
But I digress.
Starved. We then proceed to our home where the van will disgorge a clamoring herd of starving children onto the lawn. They will proceed in an orderly fashion into the house – just kidding. That was a good one.
They will proceed into the house like a chaotic gaggle of puppies gamboling and tripping over each other, finally coming to rest en masse in front of our refrigerator.
Being the savvy and oh-so-together-type mom that I am, I have of course stocked our refrigerator in anticipation of this play date.
There the children will find a plethora of healthy fruits and vegetables, perhaps some yogurt, to choose from.
Ha. Another funny. But that WOULD be a good idea, wouldn’t it?
Less. No, I’d rather take the road less traveled. That’s the road where the children try desperately to cobble together some nourishment from a half-sleeve of saltines and the quarter cup of sugar-frosted something or other left in the bottom of the cereal box.
With this they also get water.
I’m not cruel.
I then tell the children to go somewhere, anywhere, but in my kitchen. They can go to the bedrooms, playroom, or even outside.
We have a lovely creek just perfect for falling in, tall trees to become stuck in, sharp sticks to run with, and a trampoline for all those craving some ER adventure.
As you can imagine, our house is QUITE in demand socially.
Now, there is always that one mom who is the play date master.
When you pick up your kid at her house, she tells you: “Oh, they had a great time. First we drafted a proposal for the UN peace accord, then just a few arts and crafts where the girls made a water treatment test plant out of recycled foam cups, and then – this is so cute – the girls put together a little musical sketch while I whipped together some homemade costumes to help them along.”
After I host a play date, I inform the play date guest parents thus: “Oh, the kids had a great time. At least it sounded like they did. I was in my office with the door closed trying to write more articles about what a stellar parent I am and listening to Van Morrison.
“From what I could hear, they did a lot of jumping around outside for a while which ended, as I predicted, with someone crying. So then they watched TV in the playroom. I think they put in a DVD which may have been educational, but could have been an old Jane Fonda workout video for all I know.
“Then, when that was over, they went outside to run in circles and chase each other with sticks again. Oh, and they ate saltine crackers and doughnuts.”
You would think I would be hopelessly unpopular as a play date mom but, curiously, I’m quite in demand.
Space. I think it’s because rather than hover over the children micromanaging their every move and trying to force feed them carrot sticks, I give them what children of a certain age really crave: space.
Well, space and jumping with pointy sticks.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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