I am a big fan of the two-by-two playdate.
Noah, after all, had great results with this on his ark. And as the mother of twins, it works for me, as well: You get a girl for your girl and a boy for your boy and everyone–including the Mommas–are happy for two to three hours.
I have recently learned, however, that I should up my game and screen for children who have been fed large, protein-based snacks prior to playdates to eliminate any latent hunger.
“Hey, are there going to be hot dogs at this playdate?” one six-year-old boy asked me recently after hopping off our school bus with his sister. “Because my mom said there would be hot dogs.”
I produced pretzels, cookies and apples along with the promise of hot dogs at 5 p.m., our dinner hour. When everyone seemed finished, I shooed the children up to the playroom and started the dishes.
Twenty-five minutes later, Superman was back in the kitchen.
“So, how about those hot dogs?” he asked.
I offered up the unfinished plate of fruit and reiterated my plan for dinner.
Twenty-five minutes later, our guest returned to pull on my apron strings.
“It must be time for hot dogs!” he said.
“Not yet,” I said.
Then, I gave my charge a brief lesson on how to tell time without the use of a digital clock.
Thirty-two seconds later, he poked his head in the door.
“I’m totally ready!” he said. “You must be ready, too!”
I still had lunch and snack dishes to do, five phone calls to make and three loads of laundry on my agenda, but my reserve was faltering.
“How about hot dogs in five minutes?” I asked.
“Great,” Blondie said. “I’ll time you.”
And darn if the little imp didn’t come into the kitchen with a sand timer from some long-ago forgotten board game.
“I’ll have to flip this five whole times to make five minutes,” he said. “I’ll turn it over. There. Now, gooooooo!”
What this boy didn’t know is that anyone who breathes down my neck and/or whines while I’m making dinner has to help me make it.
“Alrighty, Einstein, I’m drafting you into service,” I said, pulling an apron over his brush cut. “Now go outside into the garage and find the outside refridgerator, move the ladder that’s holding the crummy door shut, pull out the extra Diet Coke boxes and find the apple juice boxes. Then, grab five and put them on the table. After you do that, go into the pantry and get the ketchup. You’ll have to move the rice cooker and the mixer but it’s back there. Then, place that on the table. Next, you’ll need to get silverware for everyone–that’s a knife, fork and spoon for all of us–plus napkins. These can be found in the drawer to your left. After that, you can get everyone to stop playing, wash their hands–make sure they use bubbles while singing “Happy Birthday” as a sanitary precaution–and get them to sit down at the table.
The boy looked at me thunderstruck.
“You can do this,” I told him. “I know you’re in the gifted and talened program.”
“Buuuuttt…” he exclaimed.
“Now move it,” I said, a polite smile on my face. “I’m timing you.”