As a happily married father of two, I find it exceedingly difficult to get other women’s phone numbers these days, but it’s not for lack of trying. It’s just awkward, sometimes tortured, fraught with nerves. The process can start innocently enough, with both me and the other woman kind of conversationally orbiting each other, suspecting what I’m about to ask, but not sure what the answer should be. And if you’ve ever been in this situation, you know what happens from there: the idle chit-chat, the feeling each other out, the waiting to see if either of us senses the spark of a connection before the kids run up and say the magic words: “Did you figure out when (insert the woman’s child’s name) can come over for a playdate?”
The words tend to freeze me cold. “Well, erm, um, sure buddy if it’s okay with Brayden’s/Gavin’s/Emma’s mom,” to whom I turn nervously, hoping this person is more adept at interpersonal communication. At this point, there is simply means by which to facilitate this playdate without straight-up asking for Brayden’s mom’s number. Technically, we could establish a time right there at the playground, or wait until we cross paths at kindergarten pickup, but at some point, we will have to switch over to synthetic communication. As my work-from-home job means I’m the primary playground parent, I have done this dance many times — well more than I ever did trying to get actual phone numbers. And like the pre-kids version, the process never actually seems to get less comfortable, which is dumb, because even in Mike Pence’s America it shouldn’t be a thing at all. Yet if you also find this process a little daunting, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Stop Being Weird Even If You Feel Sort of Weird
Opposite-sex adults give each other their phone numbers all the time. It’s totally not weird, so stop being weird about it. Also, it’s sort of weird, and it’s okay to feel sort of weird. This thought process is perfectly normal, and it’s also necessary, because this is the beginning of several million stories that end in ruinousness/broken homes/the publication of the Reynolds Pamphlet. You can get this woman’s number without feeling like you’re picking her up, except it’ll feel a little like you’re picking her up. This is childish and dumb and immature and a little inevitable but mostly dumb! You’re making a playdate, assuming, of course, all you’re doing is making a playdate, which you are.
Remember: It is perfectly okay to be friends with other moms
It is also okay for your wife to outearn you, for you two to hold competing religions/political beliefs/stances on hot dog condiments, to be much worse than your spouse at significant home-improvement projects and to enjoy more of Reputation than you’d care to admit. Much like those situations and countless others, this entire article, along with 98% of all content on the internet, exists primarily because decades of backward-leaning culture and one current vice president helped dictate it. Also, I feel like Reputation won’t hold up very well, and you should stick with 1989, whose melodies and production will prove much more timeless.
If it makes you feel better, put the woman in your Contacts list under both her name and “(Brayden’s mom)”
I find this practice exceedingly helpful, not because I’m adhering to Amish rules regarding male-female interaction but because there are a lot of kids around, and frankly if I’m going to remember anyone’s name, it’ll be the kid’s. This is just science: If I’ve been on the playground a while, I’ve probably heard it a lot more: “Brayden, don’t climb on top of the monkey bars!” or “Brayden, stop eating mulch!” or “Brayden, are you SURE you don’t have to go, because you keep grabbing your bottom?” It just kinda gets stuck in there.
When texting about the playdate, be direct and friendly and do not use a single goddamn emoji because you are an adult
Also, stick with texts or phone calls. You can friend-request or do whatever middle-aged people do later, if the kids hit it off.
Find a thoughtful, reasoned way to reveal this new friend to your spouse
Something like, “Hey, I met Brayden’s mom at the playground today and we’re gonna try to get the kids together, what are we doing Saturday afternoon?” Or whatever, you can play with the wording.
Do not text between the hours of 10 p.m.-8 a.m
Those are family hours. Also, the blue light will obliterate your circadian rhythms. Also read a book, for God’s sake.
If all else fails, and you still don’t feel comfortable, heed these four words: Don’t be an idiot
And things should be fine.