And there, the person stands before me.
My palms begin to sweat.
My heart is pounding clear out of my chest.
My mind is fixated on one task only: ask the person out on a date.
Butterflies are released throughout the stomach as a familiar nervousness takes over. Anxiousness. Agony or jubilation awaits the answer to a simple question.
This is it. Deep breath. Don’t blow it, Farnsworth. You got this.
Would your kid like to play with my kid some time?
As the saying goes, you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. For a handful of years, parents also have a small window in which to help their sons and daughters find friends to spend time with away from school.
It’s a chance to meet people, make new friends and otherwise commiserate with the challenges of navigating parenthood with sanity somewhat intact.
Many of us are in the same boat. We have busy lives with schedules that are bombarded with things to keep our kids happy, full of food and at least moderately entertained. So, why is asking the dude on the other park bench across from me to see if they want to play in the sandbox again so hard?
Maybe it’s because if there is a ‘no’ thrown around, it is rejection for two. When I was a single man, a girl telling me no to a date stung. Now, I have my sons’ hopes of playing superheroes added to the emotional ledger.
It shouldn’t be hard. It still is. It’s been a while—more than 10 years or so to be exact—since the last time I nervously walked up to someone I didn’t know and ask her out on a date.
A decade of being together, I can safely pronounce that worked out.
Thankfully, to help with this onset of parental angst, there is an app for that.
One of the new emerging parent trends (Disclaimer: I am not a trendsetter. I say this, as I am just learning about it. I am sure it has existed for years, but wanted to impress you in case maybe we figure out a play date. Did it work?) are apps that allow for parents to meet new and interesting people who also have kids.
In other words, there are dating apps for kids now. Yes, even finding another parent-child combo like they are product sitting on a shelf somewhere is available without having to leave the house.
What a time to be alive!
Most of these apps sell themselves as the missing link between “busy you” and “happy kids.” They suggest maybe you are new to an area or they hear you about just how difficult building that parental social circle can be.
In most cases, these apps instruct users to setup a dating profile. I didn’t ever think I would have to start thinking about my sons dating until later in life. You know, until they were capable of at least pretending to try and find a tissue before smearing their nose all over my sleeves. (Note: If you are looking for a date with my kids, please disregard that last statement. They are clean, well-adjusted young men with a high level of hygiene.)
These apps allow for space like favorite hobbies, food, age, journaling favorite memories or milestones your kids have reached and posting a happy, cuddling picture to make other parents look at your child and feel it irresistible to pass up hitting up the playground once a month.
And like all other dating apps filling up smartphones across the country, users can view other finished profiles and either swipe right or swipe left.
Not sure how to write one of these? Here is a preview of what you can expect from me:
Title: Worcester dudes seek other awesome dudes/dudettes
Hi. My name is Josh and I have two sons (ages 3 and 6). We enjoy the beach, long runs around open fields for hours on end and superheroes.
If you have a good book, we’re always game!
We have food allergies, but are not against planning a BBQ or picnic if the ingredients are right.
Basic information, no mention of where I live (Note: Important! Do not announce your address on a first date. Come on, now!) and just the right amount of flirty to stand out without seeming desperate.
Some even have a strange form of currency available on them. It looks mostly for use when one parent-child combo is hosting a get-together in order to share cost or afford a cooler outing.
In dating terms, this is getting reservations at the fancy restaurant downtown and theatre tickets in the primo seats. It’s just a matter of time that apps begin to charge extra for children deemed more exclusive and with a sweeter batch of toys to play with.
Or that exists already. (Note: It probably does.)
I poke a bit of fun at the concept, yes, but I do see value in considering them. Dating apps of all ages and reasons, after all, exist because it can get lonely out there sometimes for parents and kids.
Technology provides us a platform to use what little free time we all have and turn it into a bonus for our kids.
So do your research to see if a kids’ dating app sounds right for you (and, yes, your kids).
Good luck out there.
I hope you find that amazing parent out there with a kid equally excited to spend time smashing superheroes against each other for hours on end.
And if you see any pictures out there with a smiling kid or two of mine out there, I hope you swipe right.
Josh Farnsworth is a husband, father of goofballs Cooper and Milo, goofball himself, and award-winning writer and columnist living in Worcester. He can be reached for column ideas at email@example.com.