Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bad Influence


It started with the heaps of toys . . . the sparkly My Little Ponies, big-haired Barbies, and confetti of Polly Pocket parts. I could blame it on Grandma but I let it happen. Daisy and Violet were the kids with an overabundance of toys that might or might not be allowed at their friends' houses. It's not that I lack standards . . . I drew the line at Bratz dolls - too sassy (yet somehow, one Bratz still infiltrated the basket of Barbies under Daisy's bed). Playdates at our house were live infomercials for the latest pink plastic, much to the other parents' enjoyment.



Then there was television. Although I don't advocate for kids watching TV, I am a realist. Children will watch TV, and parents might as well use that fact to their advantage. If TV is severely limited, children will waste time figuring out how to get to houses where TV watching flows. Once finally in front of a TV, the sheer novelty might result in abnormally long periods of screen time, the child helpless to move away. So, if a playdate I'm hosting turns sour, I don't hesitate to put on one of the many DVDs that accompany our toy collection (again, I could blame Grandma). I did get the vibe that not every parent feels the same way after numerous debriefings at pick-up time . . . "So, how'd it go?" Oh, fine. We hit a wall about an hour and a half in so I put on Diamond Castle Barbie. Not afraid to use a little TV when necessary. . . am I right? Silence.



The other parents have actually been mostly nice about my lenient TV habits. I tend to stay away from the rigid types anyways. I've been particularly thankful for my understanding parent friends ever since the disastrous naked-man playdate. That one was ambitious to begin with . . . instead of having just one girl over for each of my girls, I had three who were Daisy's age and no one for Violet. I have never been with a group of five-year-old girls when someone wasn't being left out. Throw in a tag-along little sister and you've set the stage for drama.



At the infamous naked-man playdate, I had a craft table ready to go as a distraction from the drama and while we worked, we somehow got on the topic of earthquakes. Without thinking it through, I told the story of when my youngest brother bolted from the shower during an earthquake. In complete terror, he ran naked out the front door and down the street. After hysterical laughter, the girls were suddenly chanting, "Naked man! Naked man! We like naked man!" Um, does anyone have another story? You guys want to watch Kung Fu Panda? But they could smell my fear and despite doing everything I could to get them to drop it, the only topic of conversation until their parents arrived - and after - was the dreaded naked man. "Mom, she told us about a naked man!" The parents responded with what I would describe as cautious surprise. I sheepishly told the story and sent the kids home to reportedly continue the naked man jokes for days. Were we getting a rep?



The answer was yes. One of Violet's two-year-old friends went home after another playdate at our house and showed her parents that she had learned how to "shake my booty." The father apparently asked, "What is going on over there?" And really, I'm not sure because I don't remember any dancing that time . . . but kids are always showing each other new tricks. Daisy started sucking on her hair and using markers to "paint her nails" after playdates at other houses. That's weird, right?



I wish I knew who taught my kids their latest trick - mooning. I was at the shake-my-booty girl's birthday party last Sunday. The adults had been talking in the living room for a while, so I went to check on the kids in the backyard. To my horror, I discovered my daughters instructing the rest of the group in what mooning was as well as strategies to maximize the impact (I refuse to elaborate). I stopped them then solemnly returned to the living room. "I guess I should tell you my daughters have just taught all your kids how to moon people. I'm sorry." I'm pretty sure the other parents will forgive, but they will never forget.



picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/randysonofrobert/367692547/

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