The Playdate from Hell

Between President’s Day on Monday and school being closed on Wednesday due to fog, The Princess has been cooped up at home for several days (fortunately, school was in session today – we all needed it!). Wednesday, upon hearing of the closure, the mom I carpool with and I decided to split up our day: The Princess would play at her house with her son for a few hours in the morning, and then they would take a break and he would come to our house in the afternoon. Great solution – both moms get a break – fantastic.

Now, because I carpool this little boy (who I’m just gonna call Boy for short), I’m pretty familiar with him. He’s NOT a good listener, he doesn’t look both ways before darting into traffic (Despite my cautioning as we approach the curb, “Boy, we are going to cross the street. Stop and let’s look both ways first!”), and he’s pretty aggressive. On two previous occasions, I’d seen him hit The Princess (one was at his house and his mother gave him a good talkin’ to – the other time was in my car, and I gave him a talkin’ to). Since I’d never been around Boy for an extended length of time, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

To occupy the kids, we set up a cooking project (chocolate cupcakes with frosting and a small round cake). I gave each kid a spatula, and within seconds, Boy had taken his spatula and smacked The Princess with it. I confiscated said spatula and told Boy sternly, “We don’t hit. Hitting is NOT allowed in my house.” He laughed that he only tapped her (!), and then ridiculed The Princess for being a “crybaby” (to be fair, she does cry at the drop of a hat – but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to cry when someone has slammed a spatula on your head).


So, we progress with the cooking project, get the treats in the oven, when the kids immediately get into a tug-of-war over darn near every toy in the house. If The Princess wanted it, Boy had to try to grab it out of her hand. Embarassingly, the opposite because true as well. I put a lot of toys in time out, and ended up assigning colors for the blocks because they were (!) fighting over who could use the pink ones. I have never seen a playdate get this ugly – my daughter, though she’s an emotional sort (we’re working on it, I swear), is NOT the type to get this worked up and jerky to her friends. She was pretty territorial. Bored with fighting with The PRincess, Boy found the spatula, opened my pantry and proceeded to pulverize a sleeve of saltine crackers by beating it to crumbs before I caught him. Who does that?! Having to later tell him to stop jumping on my sofa (He’s allowed to do this at home, I’ve seen him do it, and I’ve seen his mom not address it), I was just really ready for him to go!

After one more incident of his overly-aggressive behavior (shoving my daughter to get a toy from her), I was super duper thrilled to see his mother pull into our driveway and to be able to send him on his way. I may have even done a happy dance.

I’m at a loss, and I really don’t know what to do. I really like Boy’s parents – they seem a good sort (if not a touch too laid back with their kid!), and I know that having another playdate might come up in the future, and how do I kindly say that there is no way on earth that I would go for that again, seeing how his idea of fun is beating the stuffing out of my kid?!

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Sarah is a book nerd, a music lover, an endorphin junkie, a coffee addict. Oh, and a goof ball. She writes, she tweets, and she sings off key.


  1. Maybe you should enroll Princess in a martial arts class that uses kitchen utensils and then she could take him out in a dark alley…OK, sorry. I got a little carried away.
    Sorry the playdate when horribly pear shaped (what ever that means…I’ve just always wanted to use that phrase).

  2. Ugh! I’m so sorry you went through that. I know little guys at that stage “hit” girls sometimes to show that they like them, but this little guy sounds too obnoxious and unruly.

    Would it be better to just be “really busy” or “have a previous engagement” in time for the next play date invitation, or would it be better to just say, “Thank you for asking us, but I think The Princess and Boy provoke one another too much, and think it best for their sakes to keep their relating confined to school and carpool.” That would save your daughter, your saltines, your couch and your sanity, but would it harm the relationship with Boy’s mom???? I have no idea. Obviously, if you said the latter, she could still get offended, even though you mentioned both kids.

    I don’t know. If it were practical, I’ve got an almost 7 year old in my life who could use a little provoking, and a play date with Boy sounds like it would do her some good.

  3. I’m sorry you had such a tough afternoon – hope what you got done in the morning was worth it!

    This may not be a popular opinion – but you asked and I’ve been enjoying your blog – so I’ll share. 🙂 Feel free to ignore.

    I think some of it is just boy. My little guy does some of these type of things with his sister (who is 5 and sounds a lot like princess – dramatic, energetic, but a sweetheart). He would totally hit her with a spatula if he got excited. And if he found saltines, they would become his little experiment. I’m not saying this is acceptable – I’m just saying at my house sometimes it feels like telling the wind not to blow. Granted, my little guy is not quite 3…. and I hope by the time he is older we will have worked some of this out. And, I pray (beg God?) that he would never get Saltines from the pantry while he is a guest….

    That said, his “testosterone” behavior is almost always worse when he has not gotten physical activity in the day or when he is overstimulated.

    And I would guess that an all day playdate would be overstimulating, and probably they played inside for the morning.

    I personally would just tell the mom that it got a little wild, they were both fighting over toys and not bringing out the best in each other and that you would like to limit future playdates to an hour and a half. (This seems to be the “magic length” with my Punkin anyway.)

    I have said this to other moms before without a friendship rift. I try to be careful to say that it is the 2 of them together and share the blame between the kids (even if I don’t 100% feel that way).

    Then on your playdates, go outside if at all possible! 🙂 Or play Simon Says with some jumping jacks, running in place, sword fighting without moving your feet and other “active” Simon says directions to get some of that energy out in a positive way.

    There is my 2 cents – and may the next time, if there is one, be better!

  4. Thanks for the thoughts Weavermom! I talked to a mutual friend today (she’s known Boy’s mom for years) and she said that she thinks he’s just a pretty excitable kid who plays kinda rough. And because he’s only recently become a big brother, he’s had about 4 years of being the top banana in his house and is not necessarily used to the art of compromise (or not beating friends with kitchen utensils).

    A few days past the event, I’m a bit calmer. Am I ready to have him over again? Eh, not yet.

    (Note: I really wanted them to play outside – both kids love to play outside – but when he got here, both kids said they didn’t want to play outside – UGH!).

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