My carpooling buddy, who lives two doors away from me on a little path of apartments, is, among other things, a genuine sweetheart. She's got a very distinct way of framing things in a positive, constructive tone, with her own two boys as well as with my kids.
Her apartment's front door is situated immediately behind the stairway leading from the sidewalk up to our own door. Thus, this isn't a carpool where I need to drive anywhere. In essence, I cannot get to and from the car without passing her place. It's been a great arrangement for this year and last, but there is one caveat.
The Raggedy kids, though they can be shy in certain settings, are generally quite friendly. As in, they make themselves right at home in lots of places. As in, they try to barge in on my neighbor whenever she opens the door to let her son in. And as she is so sweet, she'll graciously invite us all in for what turns into an improptu playdate.
Andy loves it there, because it's boy-land, with a fire-truck bed and testosterone-toys. Ann loves it because she and my neighbor's son are in different classes this year, and they don't get much chance to play together anymore.
There are a number of times when I've been able to quash the playdate idea before it got started, and a few occasions when I've allowed the kids to stay for a couple of minutes before rustling them up and getting them back home.
But yesterday proved to be a real challenge. A few minutes turned into a half hour (we moms got to talking about the elementary school dilemmas we're imminently facing), which turned into nearly an hour.
At that point, Little Rag was hungry and crying, and there was not much hope of getting to make the dinner I had wanted to quickly prepare while the big kids played. Ann and Andy tag-teamed to give me a really hard time about getting out of there, and my neighbor's son kept bringing out more enticing toys, which had them totally hooked.
After an agonizing 15 minute battle involving my neighbor holding my wailing baby, and me basically wrestling Ann and Andy into putting their shoes and coats back on, we finally did the walk of shame back to our apartment. Whereupon I told Ann that I'd made a decision:
I asked my neighbor to open her door while I would bring out her son alone, and then to let him in and close her door. Only afterward would I bring my own kids out and lead us all home. She understood where I was coming from, and agreed to it, with the added stipulation that we should still see each other and set up occasional playdates in advance.
She's expecting another baby in late spring, and hasn't been feeling too great herself, so I can imagine that she's not always up for the intrusion. And it's been disproportionate in that we live upstairs and further down the path, so somehow it never winds up being here.
Would anyone have handled this any differently?