I was thinking you might be curious about how our play date went last week. I tweeted the results, but kept thinking it needed explaining beyond 180 characters. I keep thinking about how incredibly duped I was.
Everything seemed pretty normal at first. She rolled up to the playground and ushered her two kids across the grass towards Carter and I. I squinted my eyes a little and tried to picture her as my good friend. I noticed she looked different than she had when I met her at the pool two days earlier. I dunno. Like pregnant.
Carter and her kids didn't play together, but she didn't notice or care - it became super obvious that her attention was directed exclusively at me and some intense conversation. She seemed eager to know my entire family history and how I felt about every part of it. The overt kindness felt funny. Possibly on the fake, condescending side. She filled me in on parts of her life, and would sporadically throw in phrases like, as the Lord would have it at the end of occasional sentences.
Red flag. Ok, not alarmingly red, but maybe a dark pink.
I'm not an UNreligious person, but I'm not the type of person who speaks this way in casual conversation, either. I shrugged it off each time and agreed with her, realizing that she and I wouldn't be picking out nail polish together anytime soon. The longer we talked, the more quickly every other sentence became as God would have it. I eventually got confirmation that she was pregnant with her third child. Which, without falter, led us straight into the sticky subject of fertility.
How many more do you want to have? I was predictably asked. Seriously, I felt like I was watching a third grade magic show. Rabbit, here's your hat.
By now I knew I was interviewing with a girl who was my polar opposite in the fertility game and who thought pretty hard about how the Lord would have it, so I picked out a long, obvious pause before I chose my answer. I wasn't about to debate my son's life on a playground.
I told her we'd had some fertility issues with Carter and were working on a second one with no luck. She kinda just blinked, not with much remorse, but more of a baffled stare out towards the slides. I could swear I caught a look of condescending amusement pursed in her lips and shakily edging up the corners of her mouth. How many do you want? I politely asked in rhythm with the conversation.
Whatever the Lord decides for us.
I took in her half up/half down hairstyle, plain face and conservative summer clothes. She suddenly looked like someone. A Duggar! She looked like she fell right out of the TV screen from 19 Kids and Counting.
I don't know how she could see straight into my thoughts, but she said, We're not going to be like the Duggars, if that's what you're thinking. But we do want to see what the Lord has in store for us.
I offered a friendly laugh at what I thought was common knowledge, saying that the Duggars have way too many kids, and there's no way you can give each one all the emotional attention he or she deserves. She jumped quickly to their defense; she respected them, thought they did an incredible job with their kids, etc. She pointed to my foot and told me to put it in my mouth.
A few subjects later, things calmed a little. That's when I was casually pounced with What faith do you and your husband belong to? But our religions - had she even listened to my answer - didn't matter. On came and a solid, fifteen minute onpouring about how we should come visit her husband's weekly candle vigils, he's starting a church and wants to be an assistant pastor. I listened to the monologue and watched the fervent determination ebb and flow from her face during her seemingly rehearsed sales pitch. She hadn't come that day to make a friend.
I should have known.
Later that afternoon, after painless goodbyes, a Starbucks run and tucking Carter for a nap, I thought about what had actually gone down. I realized I'd been groomed. The playdate wasn't for Carter and her kids' friendship. It wasn't even for a mommy friendship. It was to get me to join their soon-to-be established church. The more I went over it, the more it all clicked into place. She'd asked if we've found a pediatrician and dentist since the move to see how settled we were - probably to see if we needed a church. The intent of the intense life history discussion was to make the religion subject come off as normal instead of invasive and pushy. She'd asked about the size of our house to find out if I'd have money to comfortably support her husband's church, curious if I was worth further pursuit. She'd woken up that morning and said to herself something along the lines of, I'm going to sacrifice two hours of my morning and devote them to the Lord and get this girl to support my church and help provide my family's income.
I feel used and a little hurt about the whole ordeal. She casually talked about making plans again next week, but wasn't ready to commit to anything definite. It's as if pretending to be my friend is a hard pill to swallow. It's like she needs to keep me strung along until some kind of church commitment is reached.
Anyway, I realize what I've just written may be a little borderline controversial in the religious respect. Just know that it's not written with the purpose to offend anyone's beliefs. I was surprised at how someone could use something as innocent as a play date purely for alternative purposes. What nerve.