Would you believe, I'd never been on a real playdate before today? I did have a friend with a baby I would go and see sometimes ... but our babies were too young to play. And I went to a story time once, but I didn't talk to anyone. So today was my first "real" playdate.
A playdate is a weird thing. Sometimes you know the people, sometimes you don't. You just show up with your kid and try to socialize. Only if you don't know anyone, you don't know what to say. You know that you have one thing in common with them -- you both have kids. But you have no idea if their kids are like your kids, if they do the same thing with theirs as you do with yours, and if they share any of your opinions at all.
Sometimes, when I'm hanging out with my "real" friends, I feel bad. Two of us have babies and the rest don't. I feel like all this talking about babies gets too much for the non-baby-having friends, but I do like to talk about babies! So, off to the playdate to meet new mom friends!
Except, when I'm with those people, I suddenly lose the desire to talk about nothing but babies all the time. I wish we had something, anything, else in common. Or that we could talk without interruption. Just when the conversation's warming up a tiny bit, your kid wanders off to go to a different part of the playground and you're stuck butting your head in on a completely new conversation -- one that you have no idea how to join.
Okay, I admit, I'm not very socially savvy. I get self-conscious whenever I meet new people. But the situation really is awkward. I mean, what do you say to start out? "Hi! I have a baby! I see you also have a baby! Umm.... " *crickets*
My general fall-back is to talk about myself. I mean, I know nothing about you, but I know about me, so I'll just yammer on about what we did this morning and hope desperately that you will jump in about your morning. But then I fear I sound self-centered. However, what some other people do, the "drawing-out" technique, where you sit and interview someone else about their life ("So, how old is your kid? What does your husband do? Have you been to this playground before?") always seems so awkward to me.
By the end it did get going pretty well. We talked about the trouble of bringing babies to church (if only everyone just accepted that kids make noise! Can I get an AMEN?) and just as we were leaving (naptime was imminent) the topic of midwives made me perk up my ears. Of course that was interrupted by spotting my kid as he climbed the big toy and tried to go down the slide, and fending off the much bigger boy who kept pushing him out of the way or going down the slide on top of him. But that goes with the territory.
I mean, it is all about the kids' social life, right?