Before the kiddo, I used to “hang out” with my friends. You know, meet somewhere, have a vague plan like go to lunch, walk around town or go to a festival. And there was no real specific end time. Fastfoward: now I have “play dates” with my 16-month-old and my friends who have kids Bug’s age. Play dates – when, where, how long – are often negotiated in advance, and all worldly goods needed for the kiddos brought along. Ninety-nine percent of my social life now is comprised of play dates.
Let’s compare the two, shall we? Here are two takes on a recent experience I had going to a museum with a friend:
Hanging Out: I meet my friend at the Metro in the morning and we talk on our way into DC. It was one of those brutally hot days, so we walk briskly to where we’re headed – a new museum that just opened in the Eastern Market neighborhood. We check our bags at the entrance and walk around the various exhibits, sharing delight over what we experience. Then we go to Starbucks to have a snack, before heading into the heat to catch the train back to Vienna. We hop into my car where it reads 108 degrees, and go home.
Play Date: I talk to my friend once and text three times the night before about how we are going to transport our two toddlers to the Vienna Metro a mere half mile from our houses, given the lack of parking during the morning commute and the searing heat that will be dangerous in a stroller walk on the way home at midday. I pick up my friend and her daughter the next morning, with our extra car seat installed thanks to hubby. Load kids into strollers and finagle strollers down escalator as Metro elevator is (naturally) out. Talk, blow bubbles and sing to the kids as we ride the Metro for 30 minutes, since at any one time either girl is squirming to get out of her stroller.
We walk briskly through the heat, constantly checking that every inch of Bug is covered from sun by the stroller shade. We arrive at the fabulous new Be With Me Children’s Playseum – a second location to their existing Bethesda site. Collapse the stroller, stow away diaper bag. Proceed to follow Bug as she explores the super cute and well-done rooms: a pirate scene, grocery store, farm, “old time” grandma’s house, pet store, music stage and others. Struggle to keep up with her darting around as the place gets crowded. Feed her a snack in the “spa” play room, where I then pick up the crumbs she’s thrown on the floor, dab water at the spots of milk she’s spit on my shorts and rub off cheese she’s ground into my shirt. Accept the help of a kind grandmother to retrieve my stroller and diaper bag, which are now at the back of a pile of about 30 strollers and diaper bags.
Walk briskly to Starbucks where we give the girls snacks. Keep Bug from eating a dirty napkin left too close by the lady next to us. I smell poop. There it is, on her tush and my lap where Bug was sitting. Haul her to restroom which, thankfully, has a changing table. Change diaper and clothes, leave Starbucks with empty snack trap and a full bag of poppy clothes. Board Metro and try to talk with my friend as her daughter naps and mine cries. At parking garage, hurry to strap girls into carseat while cool down 108 degree car.
Well, it ain’t lunchin’ with the ladies, but at least I can share – and create – the whole experience with good friends!