A dearth of playdates for only-child son

Dear Carolyn:

I have one child, 7, and I had him late. He is much younger than the children of my good friends in the area. Somehow all of his friends from school have siblings.

On weekends he asks me to arrange playdates — the kids all have lots of fun — but my son is seldom asked back. As I understand it, parents are super busy with multiple kids, and siblings can play together and don’t need playdates as much. With only one kid, I have to do more to keep him occupied.

Worse, he doesn’t like soccer or other league sports. We’ve tried different classes and other things to enrich weekends, but those don’t really lead to new playdate candidates.

I can’t have another kid. How do I make myself not feel like I’m begging for playdates all the time?

— Mom

Can I interest you in a different goal: to make yourself not mind that you’re begging for playdates all the time?

Invitations aren’t reciprocated, sports aren’t an option, classes haven’t panned out. OK. Those were reasonable things to try, you were good to try them, and it’s unfortunate that none worked as a permanent fix — but it’s not calamitous, either. He has friends. He has fun. So you hustle a bit — or let him be bored sometimes (and encourage resourcefulness).

At this point I suggest you try a different and extremely useful approach to a kid problem: writing it off as temporary.

You will not be arranging playdates for a teenager, right? Or possibly even for an 8- or 9- or 10-year-old. Kids just a little bit older than yours start to communicate with their friends directly, and boom, it dawns that you haven’t been his scheduler for quite some time.

Think of it as living your moments versus trying to fix them; it applies beyond this one nuisance, too, because the maturing process means the best and the most vexing phases both will yield to something new. A tougher new phase can still feel welcome for its novelty alone.

Another point to consider toward the goal of resigned patience: Your planets aligned to give you this extra responsibility — but other families are wrangling multiple kids and embarrassed at never reciprocating playdates, or they’re attending to special needs, or they’re burning cash and ozone on soccer obsessions, or worrying their kid is overly social, or worrying he’s too solitary, or whatever else comes with the way their planets happened to align.

You raise the child you get under the conditions you’re given and you do your best. Sounds like you’ve got this — as well as any of us does.

Hi, Carolyn:

I gave a really nice baby shower for our niece several years ago. Unfortunately, she didn’t send a single thank-you note. Now, pregnant again, she is having a second shower called a “sprinkle.”

I’m not interested in attending, though I sent a check. Am I being a stinker? It feels like a gift grab. When did sprinkles start?

— Anonymous

About five minutes before the judging started.

When in doubt — and in certainty, come to think of it — avoid drawing bigger conclusions than you have to. You wanted to help, so you sent money. You don’t want to go, so don’t. Good enough right there.

Talk to us

More in Life

Scott Price, founder of the Price Sculpture Park, admires Gary Gunderson’s evolving “Pentillium” installation. The new Coupeville park opens on Oct. 23. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Visit these Whidbey Island sculpture parks to escape COVID-19

Check out the latest sculpture at Earth Sanctuary in Langley, then stroll the new Price Sculpture Park in Coupeville.

Baked apple cider doughnuts. (Dreamstime/TNS)
After you get the apple cider, it’s time to make doughnuts

Cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg usually hold court for that nostalgic apple-cider doughnut flavor.

Puddum the guinea pig in a Halloween costume. (Jessi Loerch)
Get your guinea pig costumed for trick-or-treat — if you can

Dressing up pets is no longer just for cats and dogs. Rodents can be mermaids and superheroes, too.

Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition, previously only available to overseas travelers, is the most expensive Woodford Reserve ever released, with a suggested $2,000 price tag. (Woodford Reserve/TNS)
Most expensive Woodford Reserve ever released available in US

The Baccarat Edition, previously only available to overseas travelers, has a suggested $2,000 price tag.

USA, Washington, Woodinville. Brian Carter Cellars.
Region’s fortified wines provide sweet warmth on chilly nights

They’re an ideal companion with a fireplace nearby, a plate of hazelnuts and Stilton cheese within reach.

In a pickle during lockdown? Try this innovative recipe

Coronavirus home cooking is now a part of American life. Sometimes you… Continue reading

Cauliflower steak with bean and tomato salad. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)
Trendy cauliflower steak makes an easy vegetarian dinner

Cut a head of cauliflower into 1-inch steaks, add a prepared pesto sauce and let the oven do the rest.

The grille, front bumper, and headlights are newly designed on the 2020 Honda CR-V.
2020 Honda CR-V has styling updates and equipment add-ons

The entry-level LX model joins the other trims with a standard turbo engine and driver-assist technology.

Jim Jamison and Stephanie Schisler wrote and illustrated "What Would I Be If I Couldn’t Be Me." (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Bothell grandfather brews up a children’s book

Bothell’s Jim Jamison, owner of Foggy Noggin Brewing, wrote “What Would I Be If I Couldn’t Be Me?,” and his daughter, Stephanie Schisler, illustrated it.

Most Read