When I invite kids over for playdates, I expect them to come over ready to play. DUH. Too often, however, it seems like eating rather than playing is at the top of their agendas. Snacks are one thing, but frequently I end up feeling like a short order cook, whipping up piles of pancakes and cutting crusts off made-to-order sandwiches in an effort to fuel them up just so they can get on to the main event: playing with my eager child.
Over the years I’ve come to recognize these types of playdate diners:
- The “su casa es mi casa” kid – these friendly, touchy-feely types think nothing of opening up your fridge and helping themselves to whatever they like while you stand by aghast. “Hey!” you tell them. “In our house we ask before we take food.” “But I’m hungry, can I have some of that salmon?” they whine, playing on your mama conscience.
- The “I come here to break my diet” kid – these cherubs are kept on strict diets at home, but eat away at your brain with their requests for food while at your house. They are usually accompanied by a string of texts from vigilant parents outlining which foods may be eaten, none of which are acceptable to their stodge-seeking progeny.
- The “but I love your cooking” kid – these ravenous charmers butter up your ego by begging to stay for lunch or supper because “you cook so much better than my mom.” Who can resist such flattery? Maybe I should sign up for Come Dine with Me after all!
- The “my parents don’t allow me candy” kid – these sugar-starved bandits come with “no candy” instructions but are desperate for a sugar fix, and they will use under-handed tricks to get some out of you–like sending you out of the house on a mission to collect sticks for a game while raiding your goodies drawer.
- The truly hungry kid – they are skinny as a feather and look as though they are going to flake out any moment just from the effort of standing. For some reason, it seems they don’t get enough to eat at home. So it’s your mission to fatten them up a bit. Just watch them babies eat–they could make the magic porridge pot sweat with effort trying to keep up with their appetite.
It’s really hard for parents to resist those three little words: “I’m so hungry,” whether it’s our own or other people’s kids who are asking for food. I suspect a lot of these playdate diners were looking for more than just nourishment for their stomachs, but there’s a limit to how much you can do when your own child is expecting a playmate and not a dinner date.
In the long run, I found that feeding these ravenous rascals was the best way to facilitate success, and though I try to restrict food to healthy snacks, sometimes I just go with the flow and feed the need–or turn the playdate into a junior cooking class where we make food together.
Ultimately, it’s not these kids but their parents that need a healthy dose of good manners. So mama, next time please feed your kid before our playdate.
I’m an ex-PR and teacher, turned writer and stay-at-home mom to two teenagers and one first-grader, who teach me daily that I need to upgrade and reboot my system in order to stay on top of things. I’m married to a wily but supportive lawyer who still suffers from the “love is blind” syndrome – and long may it last. You can catch me ruminating over at Momificent http://momificent.com/ and on Facebook.
Oh geez. My kids are getting to playdate age, and this scares me!
Thanks for reading Susan. Playdates are a minefield indeed – but the good news is they end after a few hours! At some stage they can be a great help too though – keeps your kids entertained.
My experience is that kids often arrive places fully fed and then ask for food. New place, new food. I’d be asking parents casually (so as to not overfeed their child) when the last ate… Disguise it as caring and sharing. Granted if the kid comes from a home lacking food and money… Fill them up!!!
I swear this is why I had four kids, they can play with each other. Of course, now I have four mouths to feed and all they ever do is eat. Sometimes I feel more like a waitress than a mom!
I so get you.