The Thing About Play Dates…

(From The Archives: July 19, 2011)

The term “play date” has always been of interest to me. There aren’t many like it in the English language. It’s really the only term I can think of that is filled with formality, necessity and stupidity all at the same time.

On the formal side, a play date is like an arranged appointment for playtime. Actually, I’m sorry, it’s not like an arranged appointment for playtime, it is an arranged appointment for play time.

I can understand why playtimes need to be arranged: We’re busy. A scheduled play date helps to keep things organized.

It just seems so formal to me. Formal and forced. Like I’m going to receive a confirmation call the day before the event. Like the kids should be wearing little tuxedos, or at least one of those t-shirts with the pre-printed tuxedo on them.

z play

Of course, I know the actual play date isn’t formal. It’s just the term that breathes formality to me. We didn’t have a term for play time when I was a kid. We had this:

Kid: Going across the street!

Mom: Bye! Try not to get hit by a car!

Sadly, those days are over. At least for me they are. We’re fortunate during the summer months because we live at an overnight camp full of kids so my kids are in a very safe, self-contained, utopia-style environment. They can walk anywhere and we don’t have to concern ourselves for one minute about their wellbeing. I may have worried once about the possibility of my two-year-old walking into the water by herself, but they don’t get more than 10 feet without being bombarded by no less than 15 campers yelling: “Hi! What’s my name? You’re so cute! What’s my name? Do you remember my name?”

But during the off-season, we live in a neighborhood where the houses are kind of far apart and the closest kid is a bit of a walk. When I was growing up, my mom would let me jump on my bike and ride to pretty much anyone’s house, but things are different now.

I don’t know if the amount of questionable men lurking around neighborhoods in hoopty green station wagons has actually increased over the years, or if we are just more susceptible to media warnings and scary stories. Isolated playdates seem to have become the standard no matter where you live.

I consider my neighborhood to be extremely safe, but I don’t know if I’ll be so quick to let my kids run the hood, unattended, looking for people to play with.

They’ll probably be restricted to the house across the street and the one next door.

Unfortunately, they’ll be screwed because the lady who lives next door will be none too thrilled if my kids show up looking to play with her kids since a) she doesn’t have any kids and b) it seems she is still not over the time when my dog, Floyd Coden, got into her yard and ate all of her cat‘s food—like it was some huge inconvenience or something. (Trust me, Mrs. Roper, it turned out to be a much bigger inconvenience for me at 4:00 in the morning.)

And the house across the street probably isn’t the most ideal spot for my kids to play either since I’m fairly certain that the lady who currently inhabits that house is dead.

For now, my kids are still happy to play with my friends’ kids because they have no say and they don‘t know any better.

z playdate

But one day that will change. One day they are going to request a play date and I’m going to have to arrange it.

That is not unreasonable. I had friends outside of my neighborhood when I was a kid. I wasn’t a total loser.

We didn’t refer to those times as play dates though. I don’t think we had a name for them. We just did them. My mom would drop and then she would go.

It was a good system but someone, somewhere must have disagreed because that person decided that we, as busy parents, were no longer able to do the Drop-N-Go. That person (not me, definitely not me) decided that the parent who was dropping the kid off would not go, but instead, STAY.

It’s a Play date. Not a Stay date.

My kid is the one who wants a play date, not me. I’m good. Don’t be hurt. It’s not you. I like you and you‘re really nice, but I don’t have time to see the friends I do have. I need to have you over? I don’t think so.

Oh, your kid won’t stay if you’re not there? Well, I guess that means no play date at the Coden house!!

It’s my house that you’re concerned about? Ok! Come in! Take a look around, go through my stuff, count the smoke detectors, whatever you want—but the play date is for my kid, not me. Hit the bricks, yo. I got it covered on my end. If  little Brooklyn is still wailing after 15 minutes, I’ll call you and you can come pick her ass up.

If she stays, great! I’ll feed her something decent for lunch. I promise not to let her go crazy on the Oreos and I’ll keep her fingers out of the outlets, but you gotta go. I have s**t to do. The reason I asked to have your kid over in the first place is because I need someone to play with my kid so I can actually get some stuff done. I promise my kid is much nicer than I am, and believe me, your kid will have such a blast at my house, you can skip your trip to Disney. Anyway, don’t you have an errand you need to run, a manicure you want to get, or a friend you want to spend some time with?

As you can see, I’m really not such great company anyway.


  1. Sara on April 21, 2016 at 12:00 pm


    • Robyn on April 22, 2016 at 1:04 pm

      Funny cuz it’s true!! 🙂

  2. Lorie on April 22, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Seriously thought I was the only one that thought this way, love you!!!

    • Robyn on April 22, 2016 at 1:04 pm

      Hooray! Love that!! So happy you are here and I hope you come back! XOOXO

  3. Joel Storchan on April 22, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    When I lived in Detroit as a kid, their where sidewalks, and the streets were Square. For every miles there was four blocks, and the side street had basically one block. Today suburban streets lack side walks, and you could get lost trying to find a house.

    Now remember, I am a true baby boomer, born right after the war. When we played captured the flag there were more than 60 kids involved. My mother never worried about me, because if I was at a neighbors, the mother would call my mother, because I had no clue that I had to do that.

    When I walked home from school it would take hours, not because it was hours away, it was only 15 nminutes away. I had to look at every animal, study every leaf and tree and check out the alleys. Many neighborhood mother would remark about my wanderings coming home from school so late.

    I do not think any children disappeared, there was no violence, it was a different time. I remember I had this friend, Robert Sarason, who lived on the next block south of me, we were great friends and had a club house in his basement. We are still friends today, yet he lives in Northern California. I remember I told Mrs. Sarason that I had no lunch and would she make me the same tuna salad sandwich she made Robert. So she called my mother and oh boy was my mother pissed. It was like I was starving and was begging for food. Mrs. Sarason did make a great Tuna fish Salad. My mother wanted to kill me so she waited for my Dad to come home and he would take care of any problems with me.

    Play Dates, I understand, but I also, like you said (on Greenbriar), you just walked out the door to go play with your friends. Or you had to go out and find where the hell Murphy was after you either broke down the screen door and pushed his way out of the house. If I remember, everyone in the neighborhood knew Murphy. I never knew how the Golfer felt about him romping around.

    Times have changed, I think for the worse, as crime is worst and so is the problem with kidnappings and abuse. Who Knew that every existed in my time. I think the worst problem I had was there was not having enough stuff to make a chicken sandwich.

    • Robyn on April 22, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      I love that you took the time to write this up. It’s a part of your history and the history of Detroit. I love that Detroit is on a comeback because my generation didn’t get to celebrate the city the way yours did. Thankfully, my girls are celebrating it now and we are a part of it as well. Thank you for this and for being so amazing. We love you.

  4. Judy on April 23, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Whoa! Play dates. What’s that? Your generation came up with that one…
    Same thing though…just not as planned. Get on your bike and GO.

    • Robyn on April 23, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      We are lucky enough to finally have some neighbors where they can do that!! But, yes, we never had the term Play Date when we were kids. Probably because it’s a dumb term. XOXO 🙂

  5. Kathy on April 28, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Each time I read one of your blogs, I wonder what the blog would have said if I had written one way back when???

    Your combination of reality & honor is awesome! I wish each & every parent was able to view their daily experiences with such a positive “pinch of salt”.

    • Robyn on April 28, 2016 at 10:24 am

      I love that you are here. You were such an influence in my life for so many years, and you always will be. We are all so fortunate that you arrived when you did. You have helped make me the person I am today. And if anyone doesn’t like it, I’m sending them to you! Thank you for all you ever did. Love you forever. XOXO