I had an interesting exchange with a new mom at the playground today.
New mom: “I bet you have a busy playdate calendar. You seem to know everyone!”
Doodaddy: “Oh, no, not really. Maybe once a week, if that.”
New mom: “Really? I just started coming to this playground and I have two playdates set up already!”
Doodaddy: “Well, it took me a long time to make friends. We really only started going on outings with people (subtext: one person) about two months ago.”
New mom: “But you’re so friendly!”
Which is true. I’m engagingly social, great at conversation, I play well with kids of all ages, and I do know just about everyone — at the park. When the playdates and groups get discussed, however, somehow I’m never in on the conversation. (Of course, maybe I’m not getting being invited on playdates because I’m so darned hot that it intimidates people.)
Before I made my Park Buddy, the only playdate I’d been on (yes, just one) was with a mom that my wife had already met, and we’d had the family over for brunch before I even considered planning an activity.
Even Park Buddy had gotten to know Working Mom before we did more than go for coffee. Even so, it felt a little like she was the first to brave the stigma of having a playdate with a dad. Maybe that’s why I keep writing about her, the one mom-friend I’ve got: I’m grateful to her for being a pioneer.
Nothing about this particularly surprises me. I wouldn’t invite over a random man from the park, either. I suppose it’s like the advice you get when responding to personal ads: make the first meeting in a public place, don’t exchange numbers and say only your first name. It’s interesting, though, as another point where SAHDs and SAHMs aren’t entirely mirror images of one another.
I can’t imagine how isolated a stay-at-home dad would be if he didn’t have some pretty honed social skills. Maybe that’s why so many of them turn to socializing with other dads, like the slightly odd dads’ group that meets at our playground. (They’re having a “dads’ movie night” this week. They’re going to see a Tarantino slasher movie. Does that explain why I don’t fit in well with them?)
But the parents I “get” best are mostly moms, so all I can do is have a thick hide to protect myself from occasional cold shoulder (or worse), always do my best to be friendly and welcoming, and, of course, make sure my wife meets anyone I’d like to get social with.