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When a Play date Goes Bad

Honesty isn't always the best policy.

Time flies when you're having fun. But when your son has an unruly friend over to the house, the clock moves at a glacial pace. It's been a while since I've hosted such an event. Probably because I've become adept at dodging play date requests with bad seeds. Yes, this does involve the occasional white lie, but a mom's got to do what a mom's got to do. Anyway, despite my attempts to filter out the serious derelicts, sometimes even a good play date can go south. I recently experienced one of those days.  And it took every fiber of my being to control the urge to grab this kid by the shirt and kick him to the curb. 

But when his mom came to pick him up, she asked the inevitable question. "How did everything go?" I did what any good soccer mom would: I lied through my teeth.  "Everything was great!" If I were to profess the truth — your son was obnoxious, obstinate, and selfish for most of the afternoon — no good would come. Because, let's face it, we as parents are incapable of seeing our offsprings' flaws. 

Need proof? Take, for example, the kid who lies. When your kid does it, you try to turn it into a positive. "It's so cute the way he tries to manipulate me."  But when you repeatedly hear your son's friend tell whopper after whopper, you think: "Geez, I hope this kid doesn't grow up to be a sociopath." 

Remember Scott Peterson? The guy from Modesto who was convicted of murdering his wife and unborn son. He's right where he should be. Rotting in a jail cell in San Quentin. The evidence against him is overwhelming. His wife's and unborn child's bodies turned up in the San Francisco Bay in the exact spot where Peterson said he went fishing the day of her disappearance. Hair from his wife's head was found on a pair of pliers on said boat. Oh, and did I mention that he was also having an affair at the time of his wife's disappearance, and told the mistress he was a widower?  Despite it all, Peterson's mother has stood by her son and maintained his innocence. As insane as this may sound, I actually get it. I believe as mothers we are biologically destined to see only the good in our children. 

So, back to my play date dilemma. When the mother came to retrieve her devil child, I put on my game face and smiled sweetly as they exited my home. However, I realize now that I did this for several reasons. The first is that, well, I'm conflict adverse. Secondly, I've learned the hard way that, when it comes to other people's children, honesty is not always the best policy. My third and final reason: It has occurred to me that my perfect child may occasionally be the devil child at someone's else house. This is my intellectual opinion, but as his mother, I simply do not believe it to be the case.

 Freelance writer and mother of two shares the joy and tribulations of raising kids in Marin.

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