To Spend or Unfriend?
Here’s the scenario: my son has had the same best friend for exactly half of his young life. The friend has stood the ultimate elementary school friendship test: a change of schools (his friend, not my son). They have had sleepovers, and too many play dates to count. I am very friendly with both parents. While I tend not to socialize with any of the parents of my children’s friends (I like to say that I got the friendships right in college, and I am going to stick with that group!), I would say that of all the friends of both children through the years, these are the parents I enjoy the most.
When my son’s friend comes over to my house, here is what the average play date looks like: a few minutes of obligatory chit-chat with me, and then they are off like mad men, cavorting about the neighborhood, running through the house, playing video games, and terrorizing my daughter, pausing only long enough for snack and/or meal breaks. Summertime frequently has us at the pool, and once in a blue moon I will take the kids out to a fast food restaurant. By and large, though, my motto is: your friends are here. Go create some fun for yourselves (without breaking any laws).
When my son goes to his friend’s house, here is what the average play date looks like: a few minutes of obligatory chit-chat with the parents, a few minutes of running around the house/neighborhood like maniacs, and then the boy’s father (I am unclear if he is prompted, or he just is an overgrown child himself) suggests they go out. And then they go: to the movies, to the speedway to race cars, to the trampoline house, to the ice skating rink. And all of this will be topped off with stops and wherever and whatever strikes their fancy in terms of food.
The very last play date, and what prompted me to write this post, was a piggy back to my having my son’s friend overnight. The sleepover went exactly as I described above. The next morning, I get a call: can my son now come with them to get their matching Halloween masks? This makes complete sense for them to go together, since they want to match, so I agree. Here’s what they wound up doing: stopping at Starbucks, where both boys got Frappuccino’s, then to the Halloween store (planned, and my son had his own money for this), then they decided to grab some lunch at the fanciest food store/pub in our area (Wegman’s Pub, for the local readers), and then, since they were out, they might as well go see that new movie with Steve Carell, which I have no doubt included some kind of snack.
To reiterate, I genuinely enjoy this husband and wife, and, overindulgence notwithstanding, think they are actually raising really nice children (my son’s friend has a twin sister). The problem, in a nutshell, is the financial imbalance. First, I genuinely don’t have the kind of money to indulge my children like this, and, even if I did, I would not choose to do so.
On the other hand, this happens, without fail, every time my son goes to his friend’s house. They absolutely never stay home. And every time I have my son’s friend over to my house, they are looking to reciprocate, so it is impossible for me to just continuously have him over to my house. And besides, it seems as though my son’s friend tends to prefer play dates at home (which, if I were him and had a Dad that took me wherever my little heart desired, I would too!).
So the Dear Abby question (would it be Dear Bloggy in this scenario?) is: how do I handle this situation? Do I approach the parents, and what in the world do I say? If I say my son can’t afford to be your son’s friend, then they will immediately offer to pay for him. If I say I choose not to have my son indulged in this fashion, I am criticizing their parenting (and insulting the heck out of their generosity to boot). I have already established that it does not work just trying to have play dates only at my house. Do I simply send my son to the house with cash in anticipation of the inevitable indulgences? Or, do I steer him away from this friendship entirely because of the financial issues?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Meeting a new recovery friend for a meeting and lunch today, so I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks, or, in this case, teach an old dog how to make new friends!