Friday, July 10, 2009

The Kids' Table

I went to a barbecue at a friend's house a little while ago, and I have never been more terrified in my life.

We walked in, and even though there was no wall separating the dining room from the kitchen, there may as well have been. The dining room/play area was full of pants-pooping toddlers and those who owned them, and the kitchen was full of the rest of the adults. At first I thought that all of the parents were three feet tall, but then I realized they were all of normal height, you just couldn't tell because every single one of them was constantly bending over or crouching down to pull Cheerios out of their two-year old's nostril, or to keep their one year old from bashing the 8 month old's head in with a Teletubby.

I hid behind Alex (about as well as a sumo wrestler can hide behind a telephone pole) so that I could sneak into the kitchen where the regular adults were. I was petrified that if they saw that I was pregnant, they'd reach out and drag me into their circle with their diaper-smelling claws to be mauled by their sticky, shrieking spawn. I wanted to hang out with REAL adults, who were drinking beer, liberally peppering their speech with cuss words, and planning on staying out past six pm. It's not that I don't like kids; in fact, I like them a lot. I wouldn't be having my own if I didn't want to be on nostril-Cheerio removal duty for the forseeable future. And, to be fair, the two groups of people really didn't know each other so it was perfectly natural for them to be separate. A lot of the kids were pretty cute, too, especially the one who figured out how to use the garden hose.

Still, I couldn't help but feel what I can only really describe as rising panic as I watched all the mothers entertain and feed their babies and wipe their kids' faces for hours. (And I do mean mothers... there were only a couple of fathers in attendance, and only one of them was helping wrangle his kid.) Is this really what I have to look forward to? Is "socializing" going to mean being in physical proximity to an adult while I'm entirely focused on my damn kid's bodily functions? It didn't help that one very well meaning mother was telling me all about how I'd never get to play Ultimate again because the baby will be napping from 11-2, and you can't do anything while the baby is napping, or else she'll get cranky! I got lots of other helpful information, including exactly what I'd be doing every day for the next two years, and NONE of it had anything to do with fun. She was telling me all of this with a wide smile on her face. I'm sure she's completely in love with her daughter, and no game of Ultimate will ever compare with the feeling that having my own child smile at me and drool on me, but I wanted to shake her and scream, "LADY, do you have any idea how completely insane you sound?"

I had to leave the room before I burst into tears over my lost freedom and youth. Luckily, Alex was there to assure me that he'd be happy to stay home from 11-2 every Saturday so that I could play Ultimate as soon as I felt like it, and I know that I'm going to make my own choices as a parent that will probably end up having little to do with all of the advice I get. Still, I'm just saying, Baby... you had better be awfully cute.


  1. *hug* Remember when you said, "I must have been really drunk for the first couple years of my life, because I don't remember any of it." Kids are pretty resilient. I don't think they actually need their parents running around wiping their noses all the time, because frankly kids don't care that much.

  2. I second this-- if there's one thing I've learned from hanging out with other people's kids, is that most children seem to spend approximately half their time falling over, hitting their heads on things, swallowing things they shouldn't, and mauling other children. The rest is spent, in equal parts, eating, pooping, throwing things, and yes...being very very cute. And you know what? Unless you freak out that they got a booboo or they're actually in pain, they just brush themselves off, get up and keep on playing. You'll be great-- and for what its worth, I promise to provide adult playtime whenever necessary. :)

  3. I know that both of you are totally right. Still, I think any parent facing the incoming A-Bomb that is the first baby has a certain amount of "Holy shit, what am I getting myself into?"

    And Julie, by adult playtime you do mean gin & tonics, right?

  4. I will also be happy to sit around and liberally cuss anytime.

  5. Maybe this will make you feel a little better: Bill and I went hiking in Maine a couple of days ago. We crossed paths with a young couple that were happy and athletic. And snuggly strapped in a Baby Bjorn was an even happier little girl.

    Parenthood is what you make of it. I am so sick of the mentality of "Oh! I have a baby! I can't do anything, but go to Gymboree!" If that is not the kind of parent you want to be, then don't feel like you have to be that kind of parent and don't feel guilty if you're not. Don't let those parents drag you into the misery and craziness they created for themselves. First of all, in all my years nannying, I have never known a kid to sleep from 11-2PM. So yeah, that woman was insane. And a jerk. Because why does she feel compelled to fill your head with that stuff? Secondly, you can somewhat control your kid's schedule and life. One of my friends has her kid go to bed at 10PM, so she'll sleep in the next morning. Third, if your kid does nap from 11-2PM, great! You go play Ultimate, she sleeps, you come home, she wakes up and never knew you were even gone. Lastly, if she is up from 11-2PM, great! She gets to witness her mom's awesomeness on the field and be inspired to play herself. And what in the world is wrong with that? Who do you think is going to raise a cooler, more well-adjusted kid? The neurotic woman or the woman who takes her kid out hiking... or to play Ultimate?

  6. I didn't realize you felt this way at Jeff's place. I keep asking Alex if he's started to freak out yet, but maybe I should be asking you instead?

  7. Elena!!! I WISH I HAD SEEN THIS POST SOONER. You SERIOUSLY cannot compare yourself to the sedentary, Desperate Housewife, Octomom wanna-be's at that party. Puh-lease. No doubt your life will change...BIG TIME...but we will come to the rescue any time you need a break from "les drool et le poo-poo." Tell ya what, the Saturdays that I am not in opera rehearsal, we can take turns babysitting Evelyn on the sidelines. You can burn Alban to the goal line and I can "D" on Dave, JUST LIKE OLD TIMES. It will be a poetic, seamless, baby watch/reverse gender burn operation. You'll see. ;)