I recently went on my first play date – some forty years late, I know! When I was growing up – a time when there were only three (yes, three) TV channels and you received a small bottle of milk in the afternoon at primary school – the term “play date” just didn’t exist.
anappointment made by several parents to have their young children play together.
The very idea of my mum and dad arranging an “appointment” with the parents of any of my friends to spend a couple of hours playing together was as likely as them allowing me to play hide and seek in the most sacred room in all West Indian homes – the “front room”. In fact, I didn’t really have any friends (that my parents approved of) – I had cousins and lots of them! Back then all the families I knew had at least four children – except mine – so although I grew up as an only child I was never short of children to play with.
My play date was with two male friends from my secondary school (now known as high school) and as I haven’t been on a date in, well, forever it was for all intent and purposes a “play” date! Yes, I’ve been out of the dating game for that long that when a male friend takes me out I regress to playing pretend but to be fair it wasn’t really difficult for me not to and here’s why.
My friend arranged everything – he sent a car to pick me up, there was chilled champagne waiting for me at his home, the restaurant reservation was made, we talked and laughed all evening and then at the end I was dispatched home in a taxi. All of this for me AND our mutual male friend so although it sounds like a good old fashion date (with a chaperon thrown in for good effect) it was definitely a play date!
What can I say, I’m fortunate to know what a good man and/or date looks like. Which is another reason why I enjoy being single – there’s no shortage of great male friends in my life for me to spend time with. To think it’s possible that I could meet a man who would be uncomfortable with my male friends or, worse, threatened by them, is enough for me to high tail it to my local RSPCA and bring home all their unwanted cats!
Actually, now that I come to think of it I’m probably single because of my male friends, they are the reason why I am able to set a very high standard for the man I will eventually marry.
For example, my friend V grew up idolising Bill Huxtable from The Cosby Show – do I need to say any more? The Huxtable’s were an upper class African American family living in New York in the 80/90s. They had strong family values and raised their children to respect a) themselves b) elders and c) each other. Pretty much how I was raised really but my mother wasn’t a lawyer and my father wasn’t a doctor! V is ambitious, driven and puts his family first. Then there’s A, he has the heart of Mother Theresa (just the heart, nothing else!), is dependable and a man of his word. R is sensitive to the needs of women and isn’t afraid of being vulnerable. He’s a dreamer, a risk taker and doesn’t follow the crowd. Finally, D who is my very own T D Jakes offering sound Biblical counsel, a great listener and is humble; and all these men treat the women – sisters, wives and daughters – in their lives like Queens.
But the truth is that whilst I’ve had all these men in my life for almost 30 years, for a long time I was attracted to men who didn’t come close to manifesting any of their noteworthy characteristics. Why? I didn’t believe I could win the attention of a good man (including my ex husband who is the most amazing father to my daughter) and settled for much less than what I really wanted, needed or deserved. Two things changed my attitude towards men and dating.
- Time alone. I didn’t press “pause”, I pressed “stop” and “rewind”. I took time out to review, explore and identify why I was so needy. Then I spent time affirming and investing the energy I use to spend seeking approval from men in myself.
- My role in Mini Me’s life. I am her role model – she tells me often that she wants to be just like me. No pressure! I have a responsibility to be everything I want her to be and now that she is 19 it is important to for me to be more discerning where men are concerned. I don’t, I won’t and I can’t accept for myself anyone I wouldn’t want for my daughter and she deserves the very best – as do I.
So, when will I press “play” again? I’ve already pressed it and I’m enjoying how my life is now playing out. It’s taken a little time to get the tracking just right but now I think I’m there.
Play on, play on.
Who are your male role models and why? What doesn’t a good man look like to you?