January 17, 2012
"Oh, and we prefer Daphne not to have sugar or watch TV," Daphne's mother called gaily, as she waved good-bye to her six-year-old daughter who was at our house for her first playdate.
"Then, I suppose liquor and gambling are out too?" I called after the woman, who stopped in her tracks.
Neither of us smiled.
Now, I'm not a mean person, but I thought Daphne's mother was out of line. Okay, suppose we do spend our afternoons stuffing ourselves with candy bars until we fall into a sugar-induced coma in front of the TV? will Daphne never recover? Daphne and my daughter had chosen to be friends. Daphne's mother has seen my daughter at school, and she's not a sugar-crazed maniac. Our home life, which our daughter cannot escape day-in-and-day out, has not disfigured her. Surely, whatever horrors we perpetrate on her daughter for the next two hours will be okay in the end.
Most of my friends disagreed.
"Oh, I always make clear the parameters of a playdate way before-hand. The only thing rude about that woman was that she waited until the last moment," one friend told me.
"I never leave my child for the first playdate. I like to see what goes on," another friend admitted.
I was horrified. I would never presume to dictate what other people can do in their own homes. If I think a house in unsafe, my child won't go there. If I think a house filled with cartoons and candy, I shrug my shoulders and let my daughter experience for herself how our life differs from theirs. Variety is the spice of life. It's a learning opportunity.
Spice, fine, my friends tell me. Just no sugar, TV, guns, rough-housing--the list goes on and on.
What do you think? Is it okay to list rules like this? Or does it cross a line?