PLU (People Like Us) syndrome. I had to read it twice, because honestly, I thought maybe I missed something the first time around.
A part of me wanted to dig out my old DSM-IV and scour the pages to see if this condition was tucked away somewhere in the index, but then I reminded myself that like so many other modern parenting strategies, this too was real.
The New York Post recently published an article about the book “The Playdate. Parents, Children, And The New Expectations Of Play” by Tamara Mose, an associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College. It describes an outrageous and presumptuous motive behind playdates these days.
The Post reported that parents experiences with social and financial climbing as motivators for play dates has become an “increasingly common one in ultra competitive world of New York City play dates, where prearranged get-togethers are less about the kids and more about the giant-size egos — and financial interests — of the parents.”
“Play dates are often seen as opportunities where the parent can gain a social or career advantage,” says Mose, who interviewed 66 parents, teachers and caregivers across the five boroughs. “They’re not necessarily about the children’s relationships, but those of the parents.’”
Mose argues that, over the last 20 years, indoor play dates have replaced more casual interactions in playgrounds and parks. Helicopter parents worried about pedophiles and the perceived increase in violence in the big bad city. A fresh set of rules is in place. Companies such as familystickers.com now manufacture calling cards for children to exchange with their parents’ information on it.
Wait, what? A calling card for kids to exchange with other kids. Seriously! Sorry kids looks like Pokemon cards are out and mom and dad bios are in.
What I want to know is who has time for all of this? I can barely remember to sign my kids field trip form to go to the zoo, let alone order calling cards for them to hand out for potential playdates.
One mom actually reported that when she asked another woman if she would like to meet at the park her response was: “Well I’m sorry, but I try to limit my child’s interactions with Republicans.” As if to say their children were going to be having their own political debate while drooling on a pile of Mega Blocks.
It’s almost as if parents are sending a message to their kids that it’s ok to play with “those kids” at school, but they are not good enough to bring home.
What are we teaching our kids when we so clearly make friendship decisions for them based on class, socioeconomic status, race, political party, or religion?
Whatever happened to just simply liking another kid because they are fun to play with?
As far as political or religious views, our moms were too busy defining the work/life balance to care about that nonsense.
When I was a kid, some of my best memories are from hanging out with people who were not like me. I reveled in going to friends houses and seeing how other people live. I was exposed to foods and traditions that I would have never been if my parents had raised me with an arrogant agenda.
In fact, when I was a kid, our friends’ parents offered us a can of Tab to drink and a cheese and bologna sandwich. As far as political or religious views, our moms were too busy defining the work/life balance to care about that nonsense. We showed up, we played, we went home.
And what’s sad is that the parents who believe that only organic food will touch their child’s lips and that too much TV is the reason more kids aren’t getting into Harvard, is unlikely to have many play dates with the parents who put out Cheese Doritos and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with Disney Junior playing in the background — even if the kids really like each other at school.
I propose we start a new movement; one that doesn’t interfere with our kids ability to make friends.
If there is such a things as an equal opportunity liker of kids, it’s my son. He makes friends with anyone and is oblivious to anything other than how they play together. Because of his “include everyone” social agenda, I have had an amazing opportunity to get to know all kinds of people not like me, or PNLM for short. Ironically, many of them have turned out to be people I actually enjoy spending time with.
So I propose we start a new movement; one that doesn’t interfere with our kid’s ability to make friends; their very innate ability to play and interact with kids solely on the one thing that matters to them; fun.
Let’s call it FMKL (Friends My Kids Like). Who’s with me?