This past week, my daughter was off school for Spring Break. She spent time with parents, aunts, uncles, and her grandparents. But the most exciting times for her are always the play dates with her friends. They always begin the same way...
"What's the #1 rule for the play date?" I ask my daughter and her friends. They giggle. "Daddy," my daughter responds, her voice somewhere between the laughter of a child and the exasperation of a teenager.
"No, I'm serious, what's the #1 rule?" Finally they answer (in chorus if they have come to our house for a play date before): "No trips to the emergency room!"
With that response, they are gone to play, emerging only when they need a snack, a hug, or a band aid.
I really didn't think that I needed this rule. My sister was four years older than I was, so I didn't experience how seven- and eight-year-old girls played with one another (when I was that age, girls were really from Venus as far as I knew).
I need it. My daughter is a budding engineer, building structures from hula hoops, twine, and lawn chairs (we call them Jazz Fest chairs in New Orleans). She and her friends climb on the outside of the playground equipment, shimmy up support posts, and constantly ask to get the ladder out for a better view.
That's why we begin each play date the same way. The key outcome of a play date for my daughter is a fun time. For me, it's "no trips to the emergency room."