when I say no to a playdate

When I say no to a play date it is not because of your kid. It is because of mine.

Parenting is a juggling game. For every single parent.

In our game, I know how to keep the balls in the air and moving.

But, then I need to start reading Pepper’s signals. Add another ball.

Diligently watching her body movements and control shifts. Toss in another ball. Or two.

Listening to her tone of voice and the pitch and cadence it is taking on. One more ball.

Monitoring her signs of anxiety and if they are in the “everyday” range or the “it is too much” range.

The balls are ever changing. Up, down, sideways, in ways, out ways and under ways. It is mind alteringly exhausting.

The balls are there whether we are home or not. It’s not your house. Or the park. Or the library. Or the coffee shop. It is every day, everywhere. And, some days I just don’t want to keep all the balls juggled in the air all the time.

I would love to talk to you. The kind of conversation where there is honesty and eye contact. There are laughs and commiserations. There are whole sentences strung together in one coherent thought. I want to get to know you. I want to know what is important in your life and to you as a person.

But, I have realistic expectations. They have developed over time. Instead of bemoaning and fighting them, I have learned to accept them. A large portion of my attention must be devoted to juggling the balls. The juggling makes me forget things. Stop my thoughts mid sentence and never regain them. Neglect to say “thank you” and upon my horrified realization, finish the common courtesy in a phone call or text.

I want you to enjoy our play date. I want you to see my Pepper for who she is. But, that is a wish.

Her light burns bright and radiant.

In the hourlong snippets of a play date, you’ll see the manic. It will be the maximum volume. The full throttle speed. The hyper. The uncontrolled. The maniacal behavior. The energy draining whirlwind.

If you spend the weekend with us and see us through sun-up and sun-down, you will see the whole Pepper. You will ride through the extreme highs and lows of a play date and enjoy the magic of Pepper. The one who is grounded. The one who is polite and remembers to say thank you and please. The diligent artist who creates masterpieces of colors and who taps into this tool to calm herself down. The one who is empathetic and incredibly kind. The one who shares innocent insight and deep thoughts. The heart-breaking unsuredness of her actions and the love others feel for her. The questioning she has of whether or not she is accepted for who she is.

The fire that burns bright inside.

She is magical. Pure radiant joy of magnificent proportions. And, you will fall in love with her.

So, when I say I say no to the playdate, it is not you. Or me. Or Pepper.

It is all the juggling.

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