“So, you’ll take BR to the playdate,” my wife asked or rather said.
“Uhh, I guess so. I wish you would get your license already.”
“I will. I will. Anyway, you’ll take him.”
“Yeah, fine like I have a choice. Do I have to stay? What’s the proper etiquette?”
“You’ll play it by ear.”
“So if the person who answers the door has blood stained hands and a sharp knife jabbed into his/her pocket, I should stay?”
“Ha, ha. I just mean if BR seems uncomfortable or the mom or dad wants you to stay, then stay. Otherwise, once you see things are going smoothly, make an exit.”
This was BR’s first playdate that was not local. I had gotten the local playdate down. You stay, and in effect, you have a playdate with the parents. It actually was a nice way to get know people better.
Now BR was leaving the comfortable and familiar confines of our town of Fair Lawn and going off to the ‘Neck. We knew a few people there, but BR’s friend and his family were not familiar to us. In fact, all my wife and I did know about BR’s friend was that he was, according to BR, “The best friend a guy could have.” And we knew even less about the parents. Were they the best friend a guy could ever have?
Sunday morning came,and I was nervous. I wasn’t worried about dropping off my kindergartener at a stranger’s house. Well, maybe a little, but I wasn’t going to tell my wife that. I didn’t know what I was supposed to say to the parents. For me (what’s the opposite of schmoozer), this would be awkward—not quite meeting-the-parents-of-a-date awkward, but awkward.
I could bring up the weather, inquire about their favorite Backyardigans episode, or say something like “So, you have a 6-year-old!” See, I told you I was not a great conversationalist.
Sunday came and it was time to go. BR ran out the door, never stopping to look back. When my wife called out to us, I grunted while BR had to be alerted, “Say bye to mommy.”
Before the doorbell even reverberated, the door was flung open. “BR is here, BR is here.” That was a good sign. The boys ran off talking a mile a minute about what I had no idea.
I was left in the living room with whom I presumed to be the father of BR’s best friend. After we introduced ourselves, we discussed what time I should return to pick BR up.
Then the awkward head shaking began. Do you have other kids? Are you happy with the teachers? BR talks about your son all the time. What’s your major? Whoops, that’s what I said when I met girls in college. I wasn’t smooth then either.
“Okay. So, I guess I’ll be leaving.”
“Fine.Oh, what about lunch?”
“Lunch?” I smiled. What a nice offer! People always told me you become friends with the parents of your child’s friends. “Wow, that’s really nice of you, but I am not hungry and I have to go.”
“I meant the boys.”
“Oh.” Did I look like as big an idiot as I felt like? I muttered something and then left the house as fast as possible.
Many ‘Neck playdates and parties later, I have mastered the drop off and wave. No going in the house for this guy.
Larry Bernstein is a free-lance writer, teacher, and tutor. He and his family live in Bergen County. You can find his website at larrydbernstein.com His blog address is memyselfandkids.com
By Larry Bernstein