playdatesPosted: August 27, 2015
I know that playdates have been a real thing for quite a few years. After reading this Cul de Sac cartoon, I got curious and looked up “playdate” and “play date” on Google ngrams. The results were interesting. The word has been in use for a very long time. There were instances as early as 1940 if not before, though I only graphed 1960 on. But the word really didn’t get heavily used until after 1995. In many references from the 1960’s that I sampled, “playdate” refers to the dates a theatrical production was performed or film shown.
In terms of the current usage, however, I would guess that the practice, and hence the term, became more popular in a world where both parents were working and lives were busier for kids with organized activities such as soccer leagues. Those of you who know me know that it’s very easy for me to slip into “why when I wuz your age” mode. This is one of those times.
When I was growing up we’d go outside and see who else was outside and we’d play. Or maybe someone would even knock on a neighbor’s door and see if they were free to play. And we’d play. There were scheduled activities sometimes, but that was the exception rather than the rule.
It’s a different world. I know that. But I’d glad that I grew up in a time that we didn’t have to have scheduled playdates.