5.15.2009

Play date

If I had a lot of time, I'd want to look up the origin of the term "play date" (or playdate--I'm not sure of the spelling). I'd also research the first usage of that word, which probably comes from an article or book about parenting.

When I was young and played with other kids, we never called such times "play dates"--we just went to kids' houses to play. Now when I talk with parents or kids, they'll tell me that they have a play date with someone instead of saying that they're going to play with their friend.

When I looked it up in Wikipedia, there was one sentence that was a sad commentary on modern life (they said "Playdates are a late 20th century innovation"):

the work schedules for busy parents, along with media warnings about leaving children unattended, prevent the kind of play that children of other generations participated in.

It reminds me of a recent conversation I had with a mother, who said she and her husband chose to live in a small town far away from Chicago because their kids can ride bikes and do other things without worrying about bad things happening. It's just sad that the sickos have to ruin kids' play time and some people are so busy they have to provide a formal word for something that kids naturally do.

6 comments:

trucker said...

Apparently, it's not the sickos but the parents who are ruining play for children.

http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2009/05/04/free_range_kids/index.html

mj said...

Yes--that's the part I forgot to comment on--"media warnings".

Silas said...

Yeah, when I was a kid in the 1970s, we never had "play dates" or the equivalents. Usually we just spontaneously played with the kids living nearby. Or if parents happened to be having dinner/a barbecue/whatever with other parents, kids would come along, and we'd amuse ourselves. It was far from a structured "play date" concept.

Then again, we also never had "time outs" back then, either.

It's quite a different world nowadays.

mj said...

I guess when we talk about how different the world is nowadays, we seem old. I'd say every generation has talked in such a way.

Junkgirl said...

Very interesting. I, too, wonder about the origin of this word. Not sure why, but the word kind of creeps me out a bit--the "date" part. Another strange part of playdates are the "helicopter" parents. Where I live, parents don't just drop their kids off to play and come back later to pick them up. No, now the parents stay, too! So, not only do I have to entertain stepson's little friend, but his mommy or daddy (sometimes--horror!!--both), as well. These parents hover around their kids for "supervised play." Geez, control issues?

mj said...

The concept and term "play date" sounds contrived and structured. What about just playing with other kids? And maybe the parents accompany their kids because they have to drive long distances and they might as well stick around instead of going back home just to return again. Hopefully you've met some interesting/nice parents.