Taking your kids to someone else's house on a playdate for the first time is always a bit awkward. Maybe you just happened to meet the other mom at a playgroup or the park, and she seems nice and her kids are cute, but you don't really know the woman all that well. What if she greets your no-sugar kid at the door with a bowl of gummy bears? What if she your kid isn't allowed to watch TV and she lets her 4-year-old watch Spongebob Squarepants all day? It's a situation fraught with potentiallly uncomfortable moments, but none so uncomfortable as what one mom recently encountered.
She met the other mother at a Mommy & Me group in a nearby town -- a Mommy & Me group where all the mother mommies seemed sort of overdressed in super-expensive clothes, but whatever. When the "other mother" extended a playdate invitation, she accepted. Whatever, why not? So what if this family was clearly way wealthier than her family? She wasn't surprised when she pulled up to a ginormous home staffed by nannies and housekeepers. She wasn't surprised by the pricey toys in the playroom. She WAS surprised when the "other kids" suggested a rather unusual game called ... "Poor." Posted on the blog Bad Playdate by an anonymous mom, the story goes like this:
Her kids started playing a game. They said: Let’s play poor. They told my kids they were going to be the poor kids and said they were rich. They were telling my kids things like this: “Hey, poor kid, bring me my sneakers”. Then the older sister said “Hey, poor boy, you’re not taking a vacation next week?”,
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I looked at the mom and she laughed. I usually mind my own business and believe me, I have been known to be politically incorrect, but this was awful. I told her this game they were playing wasn’t very nice. She told me they play it all the time & her kids just know about the reality of things. That’s when I told her we were going to get going.
The reality of things?! Yikes. As someone who grew up with not a lot of money in an area populated mostly by people with quite a lot of money, I'm familiar with the rich kid/poor kid dynamic and all it entails, but ... wow. It's one thing to know about "the reality of things," it's another to raise your kids to believe that "reality" doesn't need changing because, hey, it's not a problem for them. It's just a problem for those silly "poors." I'm surprised one of the little girls didn't come sauntering out in a Marie Antoinette costume: Let them eat cupcakes!
And the saddest thing about this story is that it's not just about one family. It explains so much about society in general. I've always wondered how it is it that entire segments of the population grow into adulthood without learning basic empathy and compassion for other human being. Now I know. They were raised that way.
Have you ever had a playdate like this one?
Image via 401(K) 2012/Flickr