The well mannered mother knows if she is invited to a social event she is expected to reciprocate. Never is this truer than with the dreaded play date. If some kind-hearted mother is willing to entertain her child for an afternoon the well mannered modern mother knows she has a social obligation to do the same.
Of course there are people who don’t care about that sort of thing…what comes around goes around…lalala… we are all one happy village…and all that. Wonderful for them. But for the well mannered mothers living in the real world where other people’s five and six-year-olds can be something of a burden, it’s nice to share the joy.
Clearly, once children have become good friends and families are acquainted a strict back and forth protocol is not necessary. But for the initial play dates or if the modern mother has called someone because she is in a jam she really must extend an invitation to the other child. If the child is unavailable and a subsequent invitation is also refused, the well mannered modern mother can be comfortable in the knowledge that her social obligation has been dispatched.
Sometimes your child might be invited to a house where you do not know the family or are uncomfortable with the caregiver situation. In that case it is perfectly all right to invite that child to your house. You are then under no obligation to send your child to their house. But be aware that over time most people will figure out you think they are crazy and may stop sending their child to your house. Then again, if they really are as crazy as you think, perhaps that is all for the best.
Things can get tricky for the well mannered working mother especially if she begins to feel that her child is always going over to a friend’s house. In this case, she might want to invite the friend on a weekend outing or have the friend and her parents for an early family dinner as a way of getting to know the other family.
Mostly this well mannered author longs for the days when children could head out the back door, wander around the neighborhood unattended, play kick-the-can in the street until it was too dark to see and not have to worry about having their every movement choreographed by their parents.