My daughter was having a slumber party for her 9th birthday and invited a few close friends and classmates. On the day of the party, a mom called to say that her daughter couldn’t spend the night—but could she just come over and have a playdate for the evening instead?
"Sure," I replied, and said I was looking forward to seeing them. If this were a horror movie, this is where that ominous organ music would fade in.
Then she added that her husband didn’t allow the daughter to go anywhere without a parent along, so she’d be joining us for the festivities. Oh, and could we pick them both up, too? In spite of the fact that I was knee-deep in party prep and this family was starting to sound alarmingly high-maintenance, I agreed because it sounded like the daughter really wanted to come over. What could go wrong?
On the drive back to my house, the mom kept rubbing her stomach and then casually mentioned that she’d had diarrhea all day. I have to say if there's anything that makes you want to slam on the brakes and turn your car around, it's the thought that someone with gastrointestinal distress is about to enter your home full of party guests.
She spent the entire evening running back and forth from our couch to the bathroom, while I discreetly wiped down every surface in my house with 500 Clorox wipes. As I was driving them home, she told me her daughter had wanted to sleep over but that meant she'd have to sleep over, too, and didn't want to with her diarrhea.
We still talk about that night—the mom intending to plop down in a sleeping bag in a room full of 9-year-olds, the matter-of-fact diarrhea announcement, the overbearing dad—and it became one of my favorite playdate horror stories.
I soon realized that some of my fellow parent friends had stories of their own, and I got a few of them to share their most cringe-inducing tales with me. Cue that ominous organ music again.
My kid's classmate comes over to play, and then the mom tells me he had lice yesterday.
The "TMI” Playdate
Sometimes you share a little too much about yourself than you intended. Jamie Pearson recounts a regrettable playdate that let the cat out of the drawer—er, bag. “My daughter and her friend were playing, and I was chatting with the mom when the house suddenly went quiet,” she recalls. “And then I heard a wet, slurping sound that filled me with dread. ‘We’re washing windows,’ the girls giggled. They had discovered my nightstand drawer.
“My daughter’s friend handed a tube to her mother. I wanted so badly for it to be diaper ointment, but it was not diaper ointment. My mom friend handed me the slimy, empty tube of personal lubricant jelly. We spent the next few minutes frantically cleaning up. I waved to them as they drove away and then never saw or spoke to them again.”
The “Not My Job” Playdate
We teach our kids to be independent and to take care of themselves. Well, most of us do. Lupe Gonzalez recalls a playdate where she was asked to go above and beyond the call of duty for someone else’s 10-year-old. “A neighbor's little boy came over to play with my kids," she remembers. "He went to the bathroom and when he was finished he yelled for me to come and wipe him. I ignored him. He sat there for a while after yelling for me a few more times, but I never went. He eventually came out and I told him it was time to go home.”
The “Thanks for the, Um, Gift” Playdate
Tracey Clark has a story about something a guest brought over that truly was the gift that kept on giving. “We had a going-away party for one of the moms in our playdate group," she says. "Near the end of the party, her son got sick, throwing up all over our bathroom. A few days later, my daughter [got sick] and then I came down with it during my sister’s wedding ceremony. I barely made it through and had to leave. I was delirious with one of the worst flu bugs I’ve ever had. A few days later, my mom got it.”
The “Hey, What’s That in Your Hair” Playdate
For a parent, lice is the worst four-letter word you can hear. Kimberley B. probably had some other four-letter words after this incident. “My kid's classmate comes over to play, and then the mom tells me he had lice yesterday,” she recalls. “I said, ‘So glad you used that toxic lice shampoo that kills them right away!’ But she says they didn’t use it, they just picked out as many as possible and then gave the kid a short haircut.
“In my mind, I’m screaming and trying not to look hysterical because this kid is in my home and playing with my kid. That night, I stripped every ounce of my son’s room, washed it, and then went out and bought lice treatment that I made my son put on."