My Daughter’s Playdate is Driving Me BATTY!

So then…they stop squealing and giggling long enough for me to ask, “Would you like to eat at home or go out to lunch?”

Chloe and her first-grade classmate Penny shout “Go out to lunch!”

I rattle off some choices and when I mention an Italian restaurant, Penny exclaims, “I LOVE Italian food! Let’s go there!”

I’m delighted she’s voiced an opinion. She’s a rather quiet girl and this is our first real playdate with her, so I’m pleased she’s excited about this restaurant option.

When we arrive and review the menus, I wonder if she’ll go for the lasagna — or spaghetti and meatballs — or something really adventurous like gnocchi.
Playdate Italian Meals

Penny orders, “Noodles with no sauce and no butter.”
Playdate Plain Pasta(Seriously? We came all this way to an Italian restaurant so you could order plain noodles that I could have made for you at home in 10 minutes for about 10 cents? Um, OK.)

I say this to myself, while outwardly I smile cheerfully.

After lunch, we walk around the fountains and visit the bookstore. Then I offer, “Do you guys want to go to the drugstore for ice cream or Baskin-Robbins?”

Chloe shrugs to indicate either one is fine by her, but Penny says, “Baskin-Robbins! They have 31 flavors!”

Playdate 31 Flavors

Yep, you guessed it. At Baskin-Robbins, Penny chooses Vanilla.
Playdate Vanilla Ice Cream

OK, fine. Perhaps she has a tender palate. She’s only 6. I force myself not to judge her lack of creativity.

So then, we enter Color Me Mine for our afternoon activity of painting ceramics. I tell the girls they can choose anything they want from all the ceramics on the shelves – and not to even look at the pricing. (‘Cause I’m a big spender like that.)

Chloe excitedly checks out the heart-shaped vases, cow-shaped cookie jars, kitten-shaped banks – and finally chooses a tall fairy princess with big beautiful wings that she can paint with millions of different colors.

Playdate Color Me Mine Choices                        Some of the choices at Color Me Mine

Penny chooses a flat square tile.

I am not kidding you.

You know those flat 4” x 4” tiles that are the most blah item you can buy in a ceramics place?

The flat tile that’s about 3 bucks — and everything else is $15 to $30 in the store?

Playdate Color Me Mine Flat Square Tile   Penny’s choice: one flat tile

I say, “Oh really, Penny, don’t worry about the price. You can have anything you want to paint. How about a jewelry case with flowers on it? Or this peace sign that’s also a bank? Or maybe this puppy in a wheelbarrow? Something 3-dimensional you can really get in there and paint it up?”

“Oh, no,” she says. “I just want this square tile.”

I say hopefully, “Well, that’s so small, honey, it won’t take you very long to paint it. Let me buy you a few of those tiles to paint.”

“No, just one, thank you.”

What a polite little bugger she is.

She joins Chloe at the paint station. Chloe squeezes six bold, brazen colors onto her palette – lime green, wild purple, hot pink, electric blue, bright orange, and berry red.

Playdate Color Me Mine Colors

Penny’s hand hovers over the colors. If she picks white to color her flat square already-white tile, I swear I will call her a therapist immediately.

Instead, she chooses a pale blue and squeezes it into each of the six indentations of her palette.

Playdate Color Me Mine Pale Blue

And so while Chloe takes 40 minutes to painstakingly paint each and every crevice of her tall princess fairy, Penny is finished painting her square tile blue in about 60 seconds.

So she spends the rest of the time watching Chloe paint and chatting quietly and amiably.

And I need to be OK with that.

Of course, I want to tell her she lives in the most amazing country in the world – in the most spectacular age of all ages – with the widest variety of choices available at her fingertips – and that she should sample and experiment and try new things and take the plunge and GO WILD!

But then I remind myself that she also lives in the Land of the Free — where she is free to make the choices that feel right to her.

And so even if I am a “spicy shrimp pasta diablo with jamoca almond fudge ice cream type who would paint an awesome ceramic wicked witch with fiery cauldron” – she is a “plain noodles with vanilla ice cream type who would paint a flat square tile.”

And I need to be OK with that.

And who knows? She’s only 6. By the time she grows up, she might be a heavily-tattoo-ed, globe-trotting, raw-octopus-eating, flame-throwing performance artist who creates clothing out of beer bottle caps and shellfish.

And I would definitely be OK with that!

— Darcy Perdu

(Have you encountered such a child on your playdates? Share some funny or interesting playdate experiences in the Comments section! I would love to read them!)

My Daughter's Playdate is Driving Me BATTY P

Complete Invasion of Privacy!

They really DO NOT like what we're doing in the backyard -- but how did they even find out?  Complete invasion of privacy!  #funny #they'rewatching #humor

So then…I answer the phone and a voice says, “Do you have a trampoline in your backyard?”

Actually, I do. But now that someone’s asking, I’m suddenly, inexplicably nervous about admitting it.

“Who is this?” I ask.

“This is Jean at Harry’s office. You asked us to re-quote your car and home insurance.”

“Oh, right, right.” I recall now that I asked our insurance broker to check for lower premiums.

“It’s still out to bid,” she says. “But one of the insurance companies asked me if that’s a trampoline in your backyard.”

“Um, why are they asking?” I ask suspiciously.

“Some insurance companies charge higher premiums for that – and some won’t even write policies for homes with trampolines because they’re so dangerous,” she explains.

Suddenly I feel guilty that I’ve allowed my kids to gleefully jump, flip, roll, and twirl on that trampoline for years. It has a huge netting enclosure so I think it’s pretty safe – and so far, no injuries. Plus they’ve enjoyed lots of bouncing, laughing, exercise-filled fun in the great outdoors, so that assuages my guilt a bit.

But the mildly accusatory tone of the question makes me uneasy about admitting it, especially now that I’ve learned it may affect my premiums.

I ask a bit defensively, “Why do they suspect I have a trampoline anyway?”

She says, “Oh, they Google-mapped your house. On the computer, they looked at an aerial view of your backyard, front yard, the house, driveway, everything.”

“What? Are you kidding me? They’re looking at aerial photos of my home? That’s an invasion of privacy!” I object.

“Oh, all the insurance companies do that now. Aerial photos make it easy for them to spot any trouble before they write policies. They typically do a drive-by in person too, but the aerial photos save a lot of time to eliminate bad prospects right away.”

I’m outraged! This is sounding very Big Brother-y to me.

Now I have to worry about what we happen to be doing outside when the satellite cameras pass overhead?

What’s next? Will the insurance companies ask me:

Hey, are those your kids playing with matches on the front steps? Fire Insurance: denied.

Are you chasing a bee swarm with a blowtorch? Insurance denied.

Is that you skinny-dipping in the pool? Insurance denied.

Are those beer bottles strewn around your backyard while you and your friends try to build a tree house in a palm tree? Insurance denied.

Why is there a motorcycle in the pool? Insurance denied.

I’m not saying these things happened – but if they did happen, that’s MY business!

I’m just totally freaked out by the idea that someone can be sitting miles away in a little office watching what’s going on in my backyard on their computer screen. And how can they not be super judgy? Are they sitting there saying things like:

Darcy, is that your third glass of wine?

Do you really need to spend that much time “training” the cute new pool guy?

That honeysuckle bush needs watering.

And what if they perfect thermal imaging so insurance companies can see what we’re doing INSIDE the house?

Is that you sneaking Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at midnight when we specifically heard on our listening device that you swore to your family there was no ice cream left? Insurance denied.

Is that you giving us the finger? Insurance denied.

“So,” Jean says, bringing me back to the present. “DO you have a trampoline?”

“That’s what they think, huh?” I hedge.

“Yeah, they said they saw a big dark circle on the aerial photo of the backyard, so they figured it was a trampoline,” she says.

“Maybe it’s a moon crater.”

“Huh?” she says.

“Or like a really big black round blanket I’m knitting for an orphanage.”

“Darcy–,” she says.

“Yeah, OK, it’s a trampoline, dammit. And yes, I will get rid of the trampoline. If that will make them happy! It won’t make my kids happy, I’ll tell you that. And I’m totally blaming it on the insurance company!”

So I break the news to the kids, but they’re not too upset since they’ve had several good years on the trampoline and have started to outgrow it anyway.

I then explain to them in elaborate detail how insurance companies can basically see anything that’s happening in our yard and driveway and possibly home – and that they’ll report back to me any suspicious behavior perpetrated by my children.

They don’t believe me. Rubes.

Meanwhile I consider thwarting the thermal imaging sensors when I dip into my secret Ben & Jerry’s stash by wearing a tinfoil suit.

— Darcy Perdu

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(Can you share a related story about invasion of privacy or something that seems Big Brother-ish? Any funny stories about Google maps, satellite photos, insurance, tinfoil suits?)

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