I was sitting at my friend's white wooden table, freshly covered with marker scribble scrabble. The mom in question didn't mind that our collective group of kids had created some modern art on her table. With a casual wave of her hand she said don't worry about it. As we moms moved our heads in closer to talk about something or another, our conversation was interrupted by the piercing screams of our under 6s as they pretended to flee the "dragon".
It was a playdate, one of many I've had the privilege to attend or host in these past few years. Sometimes there's an official reason, like Halloween, but it ends up being non-stop playing by the kids and tea and muffins with the moms and sometimes dads.
Thank God that some mom somewhere thought up this concept. Maybe it wasn't truly a concrete idea at first but more like two desperate moms who needed a cup of coffee and the toddlers were obliged to tag along. And the moms winked at each other at some point as their kids wreaked havoc and they sort of had an adult conversation and said, we're on to something.
Not long ago I read an article in a French parenting magazine where they talked about this rather American/English concept of the playdate. They just kept the word in English, leading me to wonder if this concept didn't quite exist in France. I think it does, and my French mom colleague agreed. Maybe it's just not so defined here.
At any rate I'd say that expat moms need playdates a wee bit more than ones living in their home country. Because not only are we dealing with all the mom-fatigue but also those issues of parenting outside our native countries. So in addition to conversatins about how our kindergarteners are giving us lip, we talk about how French schools are seemingly stricter than US ones. Or maybe just different. (What's with teaching cursive to five-year-olds?!)
That said I also have playdates with French coworkers and even coworkers who happen not to have kids but are extremely welcoming of little ones. The most important ingredient is just being with friends and worrying a little less about your kids. And don't forget the muffins!