I don't know about your household, but in ours, a play date is a reason for massive excitement. We don't do them every day, so it's like a special treat. The way my kids flip out when another little guy or gal walks into the house shows me that doling these things out sparingly is an effective way to keep it exciting. Until it's not.
We just had a play date that seemed to have promise. A relatively new friend came over, and was met with as much enthusiasm as one might think a new kid would inspire. My daughter had played with him before, and it was highly successful. They got along, they went into their own little worlds allowing his parents some much needed down time. Naturally, I expected the same.
So how in the heck did it go from "Whoo-hooo" to "This is boring"? Well, that would be my fault.
Unfortunately I somehow forgot that my children are able to entertain themselves, and just because there's a new kid in the house, that does not negate the fact that kids are okay without a hovering helicopter parent. But it was a new kid in the mix, and I don't know his parents very well, so I over-supervised.
My instinct was to check in with the little guy and make sure he was comfortable and had plenty of liquid refreshment and non-stop entertainment. This was so incredibly unnecessary, and I should have known better. Because as soon as all of the kids realized I was available for any and all of their needs, they lost the ability to figure out what game was cool, and instead pointed at the television and insisted they were "bored" and could not possibly come up with one single activity in either the playroom or the toy-filled bedroom.
Yep, I screwed up a play date. Didn't know that was possible, until I totally did it. Luckily, I came to my senses and barricaded myself in the kitchen and pretended like I no longer existed. Sure enough, after some initial whining, a card game broke out where they made up their own rules. Lesson learned, mom. Back the heck off and let the kids play.
Do you interrupt play dates?