In continuation of Who’s Minding Your Children, I have compiled a few thoughts of my own and other moms about getting to know who’s who in your play-date circle:
• Always suggest a neutral place for the first ‘date to ease the first meeting awkwardness. Chuck E Cheese (or the like) is great as you will be able to gauge what’s in their parenting and discipline bag. Any parent that can hold their own and keep an eye on as many as three children at one time, at all times, is STELLAH in my book.
• Plan another outing to see them more relaxed. They will let their hair down a little if you have hit it off well on the first ‘date, giving you a more accurate read of who they really are.
• If all goes well you may be ready for an in-home play-date. I usually do a drive by; curb appeal sells more than real estate and a tidy yard generally carries over the threshold.
• Eat before arriving to avoid perchance turning down a slice of cake that sits on the counter the cat just jumped down from.
• Look around, OBVIOUSLY to let them know you are taking it all in. Really. Those photos on the fridge are the ‘real’ pictures. The mantle is where they place those showing them in their best light.
• Who lives here? Ask questions about the family dynamic. How many children have been harmed, or worse, by drop-in boyfriends?
• Pets? How many? Two is my cutoff. Birds read ‘weird’ to me. Rodents & reptiles? Hardly. First of all, if I can tell from the door that you have pets then …
• If you’re not asked to tour the house, suggest you check on the kids. Most likely they will be where they feel most comfortable – that’s where the real living is done. Then ask to use the bathroom, which by this point is away from the powder room reserved for company. I don’t look in cabinets (that’s tacky), you can tell enough from the general appearance.
• Who has the run of the house, the child or the parent?
• In general conversation, bring up education, career, and current events just to gauge like interests, goals, philosophies between your family and theirs. Politics, religion, and legislation are not important here. You probably asked less when dating your spouse.
• Remember, it’s your child’s friend, not yours. You don’t have to love the person just know them enough to feel comfortable should your child spend time with them.
How do you check a family out prior to play-dates?