When I was a kid, we didn't have "playdates," we just played. Today they have become crazy beasts that require the power of a smart phone to track and more planning than a wedding in some extreme circles. And oh yeah, now some even require that you sign a waiver before your child is allowed to enter her playmate's house.
I wish I was kidding, but apparently it's true. According to Today, parents increasingly are being asked to sign waivers before their children are allowed to attend a birthday party or a playdate.
Now the birthday parties I understand to some degree. When I've had parties at indoor bounce facilities, gyms, or other businesses that require them as part of the package protocol, that's one thing. There's no real choice in the matter for the hosts, and most parents willingly sign without even reading the fine print that basically says you won't sue. Fine. But for a playdate, at someone's house? Ridiculous.
I don't want to get sued more than the next person, and yes, people have gotten pretty litigious these days, but c'mon. These are supposed to be fun occasions, not contractually binding agreements. Heck, if we start there, why not get them for any child who comes into contact with yours -- just in case they happen to collide?
One parent who had been asked to sign such a waiver for a playdate wrote into Miss Manners asking for her etiquette input on the matter. I thought her answer in The Washington Post was spot on:
Well, there is an awful lot of suing going on. But that is all the more reason to be wary of people who harbor anticipatory litigious thoughts about their children’s playdates. However, that is not the only worry that Miss Manners would have if she were you. What goes on in that household that such a precaution is necessary?
Personally, no one has ever asked me to sign one before a playdate. If they did, I think I'd quickly find an excuse why said playdate needed to be cancelled immediately. Typhoid flu, whatever, but I certainly can't imagine leaving my child in the home of someone freakishly paranoid enough to ask that I sign one. Plus, the idea of waiving any responsibility for my child's safety from the person I'm entrusting his care to seems all kind of wrong.
Have you ever been asked to sign a waiver before a playdate? How did you/would you react?
Image via edenpictures/Flickr