Friday, July 26, 2013

Four Hundred Dollars is a Steal...

Good news! Are you having problems getting your kids to play with other kids? For a mere $400… that’s 400 hundred clams, folks… you can hire a “Playdate Consultant.”
                This isn’t one of Bad Shakespeare’s fake lists where I’m making up stuff. It doesn’t escalate to “Sharknado Preparedness Consultant.” (Note to self: “Sharknado Preparedness Consultant” is going to be an awesome name for my indie band.) No, there was legitimately a story in the New York Times this weekend that highlighted the growing trend of “Playdate Consultants” helping kids make friends and navigate the high-stress world of making friends when you’re five years old. After all, is Johnny going to be a high-priced lawyer that will help you with your startup right out of college? Or is he going to be a slacker mooching off you and your girlfriend in 20 years? Getting the right friends early is important.
                It can be rough.
                The story did highlight the reason why there’s a rise in this made-up unnecessary profession (am I making my feelings on this too clear? I don’t want to offend any of you Playdate Consultants out there.) is the overscheduling of kids. Making sure they can learn the violin while speaking Mandarin (the language, not the Iron Man villain) right after your Yoga class but before you have your tutor to ensure you get into only the fanciest of schools to set you on the Ivy League young! I’m still waiting for the consultant that comes out and says that being born in the wrong hospital can eventually keep you out of the Ivy League.
                I’m sorry, it’s just… Playdate Consultant? Really?
                As Chicago Public Schools is starting to shut down its schools and Detroit is one oil-soaked rag away from burning itself down to collect the insurance money, we have people throwing money at other people for no other reason than to teach their kids how to play because God-forbid they spend one minute of their childhoods NOT attempting to get into the finest school, the name of which they cannot pronounce. (Although it’s super-cute when kids want to go to Hawawd. Awwwww…) Apparently some people took the lessons of those classic 80 slobs vs snobs movies wrong: The crusty old dean was the bad guy.
                Look, I get wanting to give your kids all the opportunity in the world. I get that. I understand wanting to make sure they have access to all the best things. I can even understand wanting to spend what you can to help out your kids. But if you’re overscheduling them to the point that they don’t know how to play properly – what kids are built for – then you’re doing it wrong. “It” being balance of life.
                I know you may not listen to me. I didn’t go to an Ivy League School, my oldest friend is someone I met in 6th grade, and I’m not exactly the poster boy of “success.” But I’m happy. I wasn’t overscheduled to the point that I wasn’t able to spend some time at home, just playing with Legos. I wasn’t so stressed out at 5 because my violin lessons went on too long that when someone handed me a toy robot I wasn’t sure what to do with it. (Pretend I could use it to crush Darth Vader. Duh.)
                You know what I’ll even make it easier for you: Here’s your playdate consulting for the day:
1.       Hand your kid a toy. Let him play
2.       If your kid is having a good time, let him or her keep playing. The Violin at four years old can wait a few minutes.
3.       There is no step three. Your kid is going to turn out fine.
There is plenty of time to not be able to do what you want. It’s called Adulthood. It’s full of responsibility and it sucks. A lot most of the time. (We do get later bed times and our Legos are WAY cooler.) But don’t overschedule your kids to the point that you need to hire someone to teach them what to do to interact with other kids.
However, if you need my services as Pacific Rim Monster Preparedness Consultant, just shoot me an email.

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