September 20, 2010

Playdate Report, and Guys Who Have Girl Hair

The playdate went as well as could be expected. Which for a non-socially-anxious person would probably be "It was AWESOME! We got along GREAT! I like the mom AND the kids, HALLELUJAH!!!"

I do like the mom. She's ten years younger than me, which. I mean. Some of YOU are ten years younger than me and I don't have any trouble thinking of you as peers, but it's the flip side of the problem I more often have, which is when moms are ten years older than me. Ten years is a GAP. There are times I feel it more than others. This time I didn't feel it much, but I wondered if SHE did. Her husband is three years older than her, but he's still seven years younger than me.

But I like her. She swore appropriately and cheerfully several times when the kids were out of earshot, but then creatively non-swore ("That'll really sssss" for "suck") when they were nearby. She was interested in talking at least for awhile about baby names. From what I could tell in an hour and a half, her parenting doesn't clash with mine. She's comfortable and social, which can be helpful: she assumes there's no awkwardness, which can make me less awkward in response.

The kids got along, although Elizabeth and the other girl excluded Edward, which left Edward crying in the sand, which was a little embarrassing and also hard to know how to handle. But that went okay. In fact, the only real issue was that I got sand on my feet and had to chop off my feet because OMG SAND ON MY FEET AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Speaking of awkward, after Henry and I dropped the twins off at kindergarten (both still sandy from their park time in the morning), we went to the music store to buy a music book for William, who has decided to take clarinet (it doesn't seem like two whole years since Rob chose clarinet, but here we are). And the guy who owns the store came over to help us, and Henry said, "Hey, that guy has girl hair!"

So I was immediately torn: do I act like it's no big deal, or do I die outwardly as well as inwardly? I went with Option A, saying absently, "LONG hair, Henry, yes." And the guy said to Henry, "Yep. How're ya?" Then the guy went into another room, so while the cashier was ringing up our purchase I lectured Henry about how some girls have short hair but it's NOT BOY HAIR IT'S SHORT HAIR, and some boys have long hair but it's NOT GIRL HAIR IT'S LONG HAIR, with the intention that the cashier would overhear and perhaps report to the guy that "the mom was really embarrassed and also not at all the type of person who would refer to long-haired guys as 'looking like girls'." She kept chuckling, so I thought to myself "Success!"

Then as we left the store, Henry saw the guy again and said, "Hey, there's that guy with girl hair!" Oh god. I mean, what is the right thing to do in this situation? Should I apologize to the guy, possibly making it into a big deal rather than a nothing deal? Should I act exasperated and say "GEEZ, Henry!"? Should I say, "Henry, dude, are you kidding me? that is AWESOME ROCK HAIR." And I ask this knowing YOU know I can't go back in time and do it over and can only do what I DID do which is to say "Henry" in a reproving tone of voice (with just a TOUCH of "Geez!") and continue to take him out to the car, where I delivered the lecture a second time, adding a chapter about how it is rude to comment loudly about other people's appearances, er yes, unless of course it is Mommy saying "Oh, I LOVE your shirt!" or whatever, so in fact why don't you just play it safe and not say ANYTHING AT ALL until you come of age?

32 comments:

Megan said...

I have a question. At what point do you stop having it be a play date and start inviting the other kid over to your house WITHOUT the mom? Is it a certain age or do you have to have a playdate first to make sure the other parent is fit or do you have to have a series of dates or what? Additionally, at what age do parents start dropping their kids off at birthday parties instead of staying for the party with them? My kid isn't even born yet and this is what I'm worrying about. Please advise.

C (Kid Things) said...

But sometimes, guys really do have girl hair. But that's OK, because back in the late 80's, my pre-teen self used to swoon quite obsessively over some of them.

Mimi said...

Hee hee. So funny.

KateB said...

My 3 year old kept asking old people, "Are you an old guy?" We had several talks about it and now he says, while still in earshot, "I didn't ask him if he was an old guy!" So proud!

Swistle said...

Megan- I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW TOO! We have one child friend who has always come to our house and we've never even met the parents, nor has our child ever gone over there. And another where the parent met us first but only briefly, but has since made sure to establish contact with us regularly, including inviting us to holiday parties, and the kids play about equally at both houses. And another who...etc. It seems to be some weird formula between the two sets of parents involved that sets what's "right."

In this case, I wanted to set up a playdate but felt like it would be weird to let my kindergarten girl go to the house of someone I'd never even met if THEY'D set up the playdate, so that's how I decided to ask the other mom to meet me at a park first so we could get to know each other a little bit. And yet, I don't feel weird when kids come to our house without me meeting their parents: I KNOW me, and I'm safe!

I am not sure the exact age for birthday parties, but I remember I fretted about it a LOT and then it turned out to be pretty clear when it happened: it went from "It feels right to stay" to "The parents are looking at us funny at the SUGGESTION that we might stay."

I think it was three stages: (1) The stage where most parents stayed; (2) The stage where most parents left, but only after saying "Really? Are you sure?" and leaving two contact numbers; (3) The stage where none of the parents stayed.

Heather R said...

This is great information! I have been wondering the same thing! Up until now I have chosen my daughters friends basically because I arranged for playdates with MY friends who happen to have kids around her age. But now she is in school and will potentially make friends whom I don't know. She is 3 1/2....I feel like I could leave her at a couple friends' houses and she would have fun and I could get some stuff done, but I would feel like the other mom is "babysitting" or something.....I am wondering at what point I won't feel that way!

Bethsix said...

Assuming no awkwardness, yes: less awkward in response. Love the way you put it.

I think I would go with, "AWESOME ROCK HAIR!" People seem to really warm to inappropriate and/or excessive fawning in situations like that.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Good for you on the playdate!! I call that a resounding success!

And oh my, "girl hair"! I really like the "that's awesome ROCK HAIR" possibility, though I would never be quick enough to think of that in the moment.

My die inwardly as well as outwardly moment came at the checkout counter in Target. Zoe was... 3 I think? when she stared at the cashier before loudly whispering to me "Is she a girl or a boy?". O. M. G. I knealt down and said into her ear "It's not polite to ask questions like that. And she's a girl." And, of course, she persisted with: "But she has a mustache!"

I wanted to flee. I wanted to spontaneously combust. Because there is no "that's an AWESOME LADY mustache" comment to be found.

Lindsay said...

Here's my advice on playdates and staying or going. You can make your own decision. I know this sounds crazy, but there aren't really any guidebooks. I don't feel comfortable sending my kids to some kids house when I haven't met the parents. Ever. So I always suggest a playdate at a park, or invite the people over to our house, or get myself invited to thier house.

I have also learned that other people don't know the "playdate rules" either, so sometimes I just take the lead and make my own decision.

If there was a kid my child really really wanted to see socially, I would contact the parent (although I would be embarrassed) and suggest a neutral location meeting. Somewhat akin to the first date coffee or meet at a bar.

Marie Green said...

I am totally that person- the one that makes shy or socially anxious people comfortable because I'm so NOT shy or socially anxious. We would get along famously, no?

Also, Marin recently said to me, at the library, while she was sitting on the counter getting our books checked out, so there was NO WAY the librarian didn't hear her: "Mommy? Can I see that really LOOOONG hair that's growing out of your breast again?" as she tried to yank my shirt down. This is better than the Henry/girl-hair sitch simply because it was ME that was the subject instead of an innocent bystander, but STILL. Also? I don't have a long hair on my breast so WTF kid?

Jen said...

Oh, I love the Awesome Rock Hair comment but I would never have thought of it until after. I'm not a spur of the moment type person. I probably would have gone with icy hissing voice because that's the one my child responds to, unfortunately. I am constantly amazed by what the kids pick up on.

Anonymous said...

When I was 3, I was at the grocery store with my mom, and the cashier we went to was african-american. I said loudly "Mom, why does that woman have a brown face?"

NilZed said...

Ok so anons childhood embarrasing tale wins, the rest of us don't have to worry anymore.

And really that is the case with the girl hair comment. One brief attempt at redefining then simply simply smile and sail on. Trying too hard to get him to say the corrct thing or stop saying anything draws too much attention to it and could turn it into a THING you know?

Saly said...

It seems like Bud is always The One Who Embarrasses Me. There was the time in the over-crowded bathroom in the play museum when he asked how come grown-ups are a little bit hairy? Or the time he exposed my breasts in the grocery store, or the time he asked 'is that the guy from Little People Big world, or is that a REAL little person?'. Arrrgh. I choke in those moments.

I wrote on my blog about the impromtu playdates we've had recently where the mom just hangs out in our yard or on the front porch. I actually like her a lot, but the whole situation is VERY awk for me.

ToyLady said...

Two stories (which is what happens when you get old, I guess):

First, I was a little girl, and every morning, my mother would ask if I wanted one ponytail or two - and every morning, I'd say "three" and mother would laugh and say, "oh, no, nobody has more than two ponytails." Until the time we went to the Treasure Island, and RIGHT THERE, on the carousel in front of the store (remember those?), was a little girl with ALL KINDS of ponytails sticking out of her head. "Mommy, THAT GIRL has LOTS of ponytails!"

And the time I took my (then) little boy into a fabric shop, and the lady who was cutting the fabric was, um, large-ish. And Observant Boy said (out loud - really loud), "Mommy, that lady has FAT ARMS!"

I'm not sure how I could have shrugged THAT one off.

Sarah said...

Arrg. The other day we were out for breakfast and Addy literally pointed at the people being seated at the table opposite us and hissed, "Those ladies are VERY BIG!" When I stared daggers at her and said, "Shhh!" she just said indignantly and even louder, "Well they ARE very BIG!"
So I had to deliver the whole, "We don't comment on people's appearance unless it is a DEFINITE COMPLIMENT" speech in a whisper across the table while desperately hoping that we hadn't just ruined the other ladies' morning. Gah gah gah.
This was especially tricky, too, because I obviously didn't want to imply that saying someone was big was some kind of horrifying insult. But I don't want her commenting on ANYONE'S body size in public. It would just as awkward if she pointed at some lady and hissed loudly, "Why is she so THIN?" Or my favorite, the time she pointed at the heavy man and demanded, "Why does he have BREASTS; he's not a mommy?"

GratefulTwinMom said...

Oh I hate that twin playdate when you have one friend for one of the twins and the other has to fend for himself. Always such a dilemma as to how to handle that. The drop-off playdate is much better for that. We started those when the twins were in first grade.

d e v a n said...

Glad the play date went well!

Jess said...

I would most definitely not have apologized and turned it into a big deal. The guy has long hair, and kids don't always understand that long vs. short hair isn't a genetic thing that's divided by sex. I'm sure he's heard it before and doesn't think it's a big deal. I would do what you did and try to focus on teaching Henry that anyone can have any kind of hair and that in general we do not comment on people's appearances, so that he doesn't loudly talk about how fat, etc., someone is in front of them in the future, but I really wouldn't worry about the guy himself.

the new girl said...

I have a friend who is 'painfully shy.' She and I hit it off right away (way back in the day) and she has always credited our relationship with helping her to 'reach out' a little more.

Your description of being with someone who assumes that there is no awkwardness really hit home with me. I think that's what she's been saying for all these years and it's something that (as a social person who almost always is oblivious to the initial awkwardness) I never really thought about before.

So interesting.

Maggie said...

With my son I found that starting when he was in kindergarten, parents would come with their kid, we'd chat for a few and then most of them would say something like "do you mind if I run to the grocery store?" That was my first indication that I'd hit the age at which it was just fine to drop off for playdates and leave. FREEDOM! I will say that this happened with several kids who were younger siblings first, so I felt like their parents had a much better handle on the whole situation than I did since son was my first. I was totally comfortable with the drop off and leave situation with almost all kids once my son was in K. Before then, I was fine with it with three kids - two he'd gone to day-care with for years and the other was the next door neighbor kid. So, I would say K is fine for most kids, some kids earlier, other kids later if they are less comfortable in some situations.

Sabrina said...

There is an African American cashier at our neighborhood grocery store who has that disease that Michael Jackson claimed to have, where you have large areas of skin that lose all their melanin (I think that's what the issue is), leaving the skin very distinctly splotchy brown and white.

At 3 years old, my daughter started referring to him (loudly) as "the dirty man." /DIE. We talked to her about it very firmly, tried to explain the situation in a clinical way and then in a social/behavioral way. It resolved. OMG.

Raven said...

My son has girl hair and we went to a store where the shop clerk proceeded to call us ladies so I made sure to make my son speak because he sounds like Barry White just to make the clerk die of embarrassment. Then I raised an eyebrow as I looked directly at him and kept right on about my business. It was PRICELESS and my son got the biggest kick out of it.

He hates when people mistake him as a girl because of his hair so he enjoys torturing them for their assumptions. :)

Anonymous said...

reminds me of the time my kids kept excitedly talking about the BOY PIRATE!!!!

(kid with an eyepatch)

Livi

Swistle said...

Oh, Raven, you are the perfect person to weigh in on this! What would he think if a dim 3-year-old made a loud comment? Would he want the mom to keel over and die, or would he prefer the absentminded "LONG hair, sweetie," or would he like the "rock hair" thing?

Erin said...

HA! So funny about Henry. My Emmett has beautiful boy-girl hair. He gets mad when people say, "You have such beautiful hair!" I try to tell him it's because it is curly and perfect. That's what I would have said to Henry. I would have said, "Yes, he has perfectly lovely hair, doesn't he?"

Raven said...

Rock hair or absentminded long hair would work equally well in that instance. Little kids get an exception across the board even from other kids it seems and he really doesn't want it to become a thing, it just makes him uncomfortable at that point.

I do damage control on my end and that is the important bit. My husband had hair longer than mine when we met and it was gorgeous, shiny and straight. There were times when we would be sitting down at restaurants and guys would see me and the back of his head and think there were two chicks to hit on until they got close enough to see his hairy arms. HAHA. It helps that he has people in his life that can commiserate with stories like that, I expect for dude at the store it's old hat by now. Plus like I said, little kids get a by.

"Kids say the darndest things" and all that.

Anne said...

I have been thinking about this post ever since I read it yesterday. I think all kids go through a stage where they just have to learn what is appropriate to say out loud, and what isn't. With our oldest (who is now 8) it was the age range of 3-4, a whole year of cringe worthy moments. Her asking a lady in the grocery store about a huge thingee on her face.....pointing to a man and asking why he was wearing pink because it was a girl color....and the absolute worst one, when we were getting into my husband's car - husband and father up front, me and Abby and my dad's girlfriend in the back- and Abby said to the girlfriend, "You are too fat to sit back here you are going to squish us all." I STILL cringe about that one. She wasn't saying it maliciously- she was just stating an obvious fact, and i had to figure out how to cover that one and also let Abby know that sometimes you just have to shut your mouth and be uncomfortable and NOT state the obvious. I guess my point is- make the little corrections, eventually he will figure it out. And sometimes boys just have girl hair. And sometimes 8 year olds STILL make you cringe by saying to strangers, "your baby has HUGE ears."

Mommy Daisy said...

Glad that they playdate went well. And as for Henry, I think you handled it appropriately. It's so tough at that age, but they will learn.

Shoeaddict said...

I am dying with laughter at all of these stories. Kids are too funny.

Angie said...

The guy has long hair. He isn't a child. I would have corrected him that it was long hair, not girl hair, but I wouldn't fret about it. Now, if he was talking about a growth on his face or the color of his skin, I would be more concerned.

Kelsey said...

I'm glad the play date went well. For now, for us, we host or stay because of our allergy issues, at least most of the time. But we've had kids dropped off here many times. I think it is a case by case situation.