When Is It Cool To Play The Kid Card?

The other day, a close family relative of mine (or at least I think of her as close) came to visit. I hadn’t seen her in a year and a half. She and her 3-year-old were only in town for five days.

Prior to her arrival, I invited them to stay at my place the night before her flight so we could catch up. She said yes. The day before her departure, she changed her plans and decided to stay at an airport hotel because her flight left at 6 a.m. the next day. This had happened in the past, but she and her daughter still stayed at my place.

She first offered up one alternative plan (which I couldn’t do) and then politely but firmly told me that she would be going to an airport hotel because she wanted her daughter to get a good night’s sleep before the flight. Basically, I was S.O.L. in seeing her because her child’s sleep took priority. I was stunned – she had played the kid card.

Look, I get it. She’s a mom with a 3-year-old, who is about to embark on a 5+ hour flight. But at what point do you stop using your kid as an excuse?

I have two kids, and I’ll be honest, I’ve played the kid card myself. I’ve used “Nope, I can’t come over because my son needs to nap,” or “Little Johnny has the sniffles so we can’t visit today,” and looking back (because hindsight is 20/20), I probably damaged a friendship or two along the way by playing the kid card.

Being a parent isn’t all bonbons and cotton candy and sometimes we take the easy way out because our kids have made us tired and sleep-deprived.

It also seems to me that playing the kid card is less about the child and more about the adult. It’s quicker and faster to use your child as an excuse than deal with the real issues at hand.

I, however, would much rather hear the truth than be played. If our friendship isn’t a priority, that’s fine. Tell me so that I can stop wasting my time and move on.

For me, the incident raised several questions: Should your child’s comfort take priority over a close familial relationship? When do you stop playing the kid card? Will I be making these excuses when my son starts playing soccer and his soccer games conflict with a family function or a family member coming to town?

It’s tricky and I suspect it will only get more difficult.

Whew!  Well, I’m glad I got that off my chest. Now what do you think? How often do you play the kid card