FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Ruined Play Date

Written By: Scot Butwell - Mar• 01•15


I used to jokingly refer to L as Dr. Jekle and Mr. Hyde. As the saying for sports cars goes, she can accelerate from happy to angry in just seconds.

Exhibit A: D’s play date with his friend B.

No sooner than I buckled my seat belt in the parking lot, L launched into an angry diatribe on how I had ruined D’s play date as we drove to Chic-Fil-A.

“How did I ruin his play date?”

“You put yourself in the middle.”

”What are you talking about?”

”You didn’t let them play with each other because you always in the center of the play date. It’s the same thing when you’re at the park with D and C.”

I was flabbergasted. I thought D’s Play Date had been a success.  The moms talked; I played with the kids. D and his friend B had a good time; I didn’t see how I had ruined the play date.

But it has taken me a few weeks, and I realize what L said is true. I ruined the play date because D needs space to learn to respond to social cues without me being at the center of his play date.

I didn’t “ruin” his play date in the sense that neither D or his friend had  fun. They did. But I prevented D from being able to interact on his own from me being in the middle of the action.

I needed to be a side kick, not the star of the play date. I needed to let D learn to initiate interactions with a friend as he will need to do at school—when I am not around to as a facilitator.

So, yes, I admit, from a developmental point of view, I ruined D’s play date.

Now, if I can only help L to understand how her tone makes it difficult to hear whatever she says to me. As I’ve told her over a thousand times: It’s not what you say, but how you say it.

That’s what bothers me. A lot.

When she speaks with a loud tone, it’s hard to separate her point from the emotion, and I only hear her shrill tone, making it difficult to receive her ideas because of the excess emotion.

I agree with her that D needs space to to have back-and-forth exchanges on his own, and so I plan to take more of a back seat while he and I are at the park down the street from our home.

But I think I was also right in my initial response, I didn’t ruin D’s play date—after all, a dad should get some stage time in his son’s life, and not just get pushed off  to the side, right?

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