So there's a term in the parental world I've managed to avoid encountering until now. It is the antithesis of all that is male, the yin to the yang of testosterone, the black pieces to the white pieces of swagger-and-boast, the ultimate "null" confronting all that is the Cult of the Swinging Cod.
Even mentioning the term amongst the Brethren of the Hairy Armpit will instantly create snickers, if not outright mockery. To be forced to participate in one is to be emasculated to the core of your soul. Or at least, this was my attitude on the subject prior to this weekend.
Amy had warned me before that it was entirely probable that at some point (notice all the qualifying words - even now, my core still rejects what has come and gone) we would have to make other couple friends. Specifically, couple friends who had a child the same age as our son. Ah, joy, rapture, and bulshevik, says me: I don't do double dates, I don't do social outings, and I SURELY do NOT do other people's small children. Oh. Hell. No.
So it was with some surprise that I found myself agreeing to - even, possibly urging towards - a pair-with-child social outing this weekend. The truth is I'd yet to see my child playing with other children. We don't exactly hang out together at his school, and Lucas is the lone gunman at our place. I was curious. In this case, the fact that I knew one of the pair coming with the other kid helped, too. She's decent folk, and possessed of good sense, relatively keen mind (relatively. She's a teacher, so c'mon, be reasonable, heh, heh) and sarcastic wit. The excuse to clean up our house (yeah, that's one you'll run into as well - with a little one rumpusing around, cleaning house seems a bit more pointless) was a good thing to have as well.
So. Clean house, clean kid, hell, I even shaved on a weekend. That's all the effort you get from me for this pair-with-child (no, I won't say THAT word again) social outing.
I must admit I was surprised. Turned out not to be such a bad gig. Thing is, having a kid makes certain normal outings a bit more stressful. It's not that you CAN'T go out to eat with the Lil' Dude, it's that he makes things a bit more interesting. When he decides to test his maximum volume with a mighty gleeful shriek at home, this is enchanting. When he does it at your favorite Italian eatery and the entire room turns to see what horrible medieval act you are performing on your child, this is humiliating.
Pair-with-child social outing, not so much. Both kids are going to shriek. Both pairs know it. So we're all good with it. Bonus: you get to see the other child's reaction to aforementioned shriekage. You can talk to adults without wondering what they'll think when Lil' Dude unloads a big pile into the ol' diaper. If he tosses food on the floor now, this is not uncomfortable - it is accepted social norm! Amongst non-parents, a child getting a bloody nose would be the cause for much alarm. In this case - because, as it happened, the visiting child managed to bonk herself a good one with one of Lucas's toys - it was hardly even worthy of a minute's change in conversation.
Yea verily. Pair-with-child social outings aren't such a bad gig. Kid gets to play (and you get to see a bit more of your kid's personality thereby) you get to relax, and all is well with the world.
...just don't mention the concept to the other Lords of the Couch.