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What's The Etiquette Here?

Maddie’s been begging me to set up
playdates with a couple girls in her ballet class, so I’ve
spent the past few lessons coordinating calendars with parents of
her friends of choice. One friend has a stay-at-home dad, and as we
finally got the date and time hammered out, I gave him directions
to our house. “What time do you want here there?” he
asked, and I told him. “And what time do you want me to pick
her up?” he continued.

Um, what?

I was completely taken aback, but stuttered out an end time, to
which he nodded and made a note. Then I went back to my ballet
class observation seat and tried to figure this out.

I mean, I understand that as my girls get
older they’ll have play dates with friends without me.
Personally, I’m still in the
phase, but I understand not all parents of Maddie’s friends
want to be friends with me. Still, even though there are a few
people in the neighborhood I’d feel comfortable dropping
Maddie off with while I ran errands or something, I can’t
imagine leaving her for a first-time play date at someone’s
house that I barely know. I’d want to make sure that Maddie
was on her best behavior, that she and the new friend were
compatible, and, oh yes, that the parent wasn’t psychotic.

But as I thought about it, I hit on a possible semi-acceptable
explanation – the whole adult different gender thing. Perhaps
the dad didn’t want me to feel awkward about being alone in
the house with a man other than my husband in the middle of the
day. I told Brian about this, and he said he for one greatly
appreciated this gesture and felt much more comfortable knowing the
dad wouldn’t be there, even though my mom would be there the
whole time as well.

So all that’s fine and good – I’ll assume
that’s the reason and give him the benefit of the doubt. But
does he expect me to reciprocate? Because he’s already made
noises about doing an invitation to their house for the next play
date, and there’s no way I’m leaving my daughter alone
with a strange man for a couple hours. So what do I do here? If he
mentions meeting at his house, do I bring the whole thing out in
the open and let him know I’m not comfortable with not being
there, and we could meet somewhere neutral like a park or (dang it)
a fast-food joint? Come to think of it, he’d suggested a
fast-food joint initially and I dragged it to my house to save
money – perhaps that was his reasoning.

What would you do, moms and dads? How would you handle this?
Keeping in mind it may not even come up, but with my luck
they’ll become best friends.


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