Just as the vernacular has changed, it seems that something else has too. When a parent picks up their child from a friend's house, the formalities of parking, coming to the door, making introductions and saying “thank you” are all things of the past.
Over the years, my kids have had all types of friends as guests. I’ve been repetitively reminded that it’s no longer referred to as a “play date” but as “hanging out.”
While most youthful guests have been welcomed visitors, some parents have forgotten the basic rules of acknowledgment and appreciation when it comes to picking up their child. Most don’t even get out of the car. They’ll text or call their child when they arrive, then wait in the car with beaming headlights and running motor.
There’s no issue with established friends running out the door with a goodbye wave and a friendly honk from mom or dad. However, child retrieval performed by parents I’ve never met, with no acknowledgment, can be disconcerting. Do they not want to know where and with who said child has been staying all day? It just seems odd, almost bothersome, how this practice has become the norm and I’m starting to wonder just how to address it.
If this normalcy happened during my temperamental adolescent years, my mother would easily repeat the embarrassing lecture on etiquette and what’s proper. Now that I’m a parent myself, I understand the basics of validation and appreciation when someone takes the time and effort to be responsible for your child. (My mother loves hearing how right she is.)
At my home, an environment to “hang out” with adult supervision is graciously given. Adolescent guests bounce around the house anywhere from 6 to 24 hours. Rides to parks, practices and movies have also been provided. Dinner invitations are usually offered for the extended-stay guests. Even the Whirlpool has been commissioned off to wash muddy clothes from outside adventures. After all this, there are times I’ve yet to meet Mama Bear.
I understand we’re all busy and working hard, surviving on limited sleep and hot, caffeinated beverages. I’ve been exhausted countless times while picking up children. I don’t always want to socialize with an unknown mother, filling the room with mindless chitchat while junior slowly rounds up his belongings. But as a parent it’s important to know where your kids are and who they’re “hanging out” with. It’s just as important to thank the parents who take responsibility for your kids.
I’m not looking for a drawn-out powwow in my family room every single time my kids’ friends are picked up. I would be happy with a quick exchange so that, if nothing else, I can link a name with a face. If I know you, then next time you really can honk in the driveway to call your children home. I’ll toss your kid out the door with a full stomach and wave through the window.
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