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Questions I Never Thought I'd Ask Before a Playdate

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I’ll never forget how happy my next door neighbor was when, in fourth grade, he came home from hanging out at a friend’s house, reporting that they had found porn in the parents’ bedroom closet. He was positively giddy. Won-the-lottery giddy. The kind of unbridled glee my 8-month-old daughter typically reserves for cereal puffs, my boobs or the moment when she catches both feet in Happy Baby pose. My neighbor’s parents weren’t thrilled, obviously, but they had other things to worry about, like paying for his Michael Jackson-themed Bar Mitzvah and chaperoning all of us at the upcoming NKOTB concert.

RELATED: Why I Drink Wine During My Kid's Playdate

Back in the '80s, playdates were simple. We were basically pushed out the front door, told to walk or bike to our friend’s house (sometimes up to a mile away) and expected to be back before it was dark enough outside for the street lights to switch on. Maybe we got a cursory hit of bug spray or were given a dollar in case the ice cream man drove by. All our parents really cared about was that an adult would be present and, I suppose, that that adult wasn’t currently being profiled on "America's Most Wanted."

Today, it’s a whole different ball game: Parents who let their kids walk outside unsupervised get tossed in jail. The chemicals in bug spray are strong enough to melt plastic and will make you grow three heads. Every ice cream man is a potential pedophile, and besides, half the kids are allergic to dairy.

It’s becoming more and more evident that I’ll soon need to start asking a litany of personal questions before sending her on anything unsupervised.

Basically, sending your kid to a friend’s house is like throwing them into the "Hunger Games." And once they make it there, potential dangers lurk in every corner: Cashews in pantries. Xanax in medicine cabinets. Guns in basements. Rescue pit bulls in the backyard.

While our 3-year-old daughter’s sole playdate concern is “Do they have Lego people?” it’s becoming more and more evident that I’ll soon need to start asking a litany of personal, and likely quite uncomfortable, questions before sending her on anything unsupervised. True, that’s still a few years away, but recent headlines have me jittery already. It’s got me thinking … how much interrogating will I need to do? For instance…

What our moms asked: “Would you mind making them PB & Js for dinner?”

What today’s moms need to ask: “Does your child have any food allergies I should know about? Wheat? Dairy? Peanut? Tree nut? Soy? Egg? Shellfish?”

What our moms asked: “Do any of your kids have chicken pox?” (This was actually asked in a hopeful tone, as the goal was to expose us as early as possible. I just called my mom to ask her about this and she told me not only would they throw pox parties, but the parents would have us all share popsicles with the infected kid.)

What today’s moms need to ask: “Do any of your kids have the measles or whooping cough?”

What our moms asked: “Jennifer loves art projects … maybe the kids can do some bedazzling or draw with glitter pens?”

What today’s moms need to ask: “Jennifer is allergic to bee stings … do you know how to use an EpiPen?”

What our moms asked: “Can you send her home after 'Growing Pains'?”

What today’s moms need to ask: “Do you have a V-chip on your TV? Do you allow the kids to use the computer unmonitored? Also, please try to limit their texting and keep them off Snapchat.”

RELATED: It’s OK to Say No to the Toxic Playdate

What our moms asked: “Megan’s on her way over—can you unlock the door so she can let herself in?”

What today’s moms need to ask: “Do you have guns in the house? And if so, are they locked up and stored out of reach?”

What our moms asked: “Please don’t let her fill up on sugar.”

What today’s moms need to ask: “Please don’t let her fill up on GMOs.”

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