Before kids, the hub and I used to go out all the time. We'd go to the movies at least once a week. We'd have dinner out several times a week. We'd RSVP 'yes' to every party without a second thought. We'd spend weekends at music festivals or take an impromptu drive down to the Florida coast. It was not unusual for us to jump in the car and see where the road took us. Very little planning went into our escapes. Grab your coat and go. And go we did.
Once our beautiful children came into the picture, our social life became a home life. We had to pick and choose our outings. Armed with a colicky baby, we steered clear of movie theaters and restaurants. We had to pack multiple bags for every out of house experience. Not only did we grab our coats, we grabbed the diapers, diaper rash cream, baby wipes, bottles, change of clothes, toys, blankets, stroller, colic water, teething biscuits, and teething rings just to visit my folks. The adventure started before we even walked out the door.
Now that the kids are older and require less outing prep, we try to venture out more as a family. The hub and I even go on the rare date night or grown-up party. My in-laws live down the street from us, so we are pretty set on the babysitting conundrum. We try hard not to take advantage of our pro bono sitters so our outings are still pretty few and far between.
I've noticed something now that we are slowly entering back into the social world. At least once during the night, a non-parent friend will ask me, "Who is watching your kids tonight?" At first, I'd tell them the grandparents were babysitting for the evening and not think much about it. After several inquiries during the next few parties, I started wondering why they would question the whereabouts of my brood. I don't recall ever asking my friends with kids where their kids were when I was childless. I assumed that if the kids were not by their side, they were somewhere else under the watchful eye of a caregiver of some sort. Besides, before kids, I was more concerned about the beer in my hand or if the DJ was going to ever play my jam than the location of other people's kids. But, I digress.
I can take the "who's watching your kids" question, one of three ways:
1. My non-parent friend wants to have a conversation with me and thinks the best way to start is with a question concerning my kids. Your kids are not at your side, so whose side are they at now? Fair enough. I understand that we live different lives now and common ground is hard to find. I know we don't come to these parties very often and we haven't talked in months. Thank you so much for trying to connect with me again. Now, let's go get a drink.
2. My non-parent friend does not believe I am a responsible parent and that I left them home alone. They have DFACS programed in their phone and they have an itchy dialing finger. Highly unlikely but still an option.
3. This is a fantastic opportunity to mess with my non-parent friend's head. Of course, this is the option I take. I am evil like that. That's the chance you take when you're my friend. Besides, they signed the contract. They have been warned.
"Hey Terese! Who is watching your kids tonight?"
Below is a list of possible answers:
- "The kids are at home. I put them in the closet with a litter box and a bowl of food. They'll be good for another 6 hours."
- "Oh, they're just driving around the block until we call them to pick us up."
- "They're on their way... Beer run."
-"Um... we don't have kids."
- Figure out who is arriving late to the party. Tell the non-parent friend that the (late arriving) person is watching the kids. Act horrified when he/she shows up later without the kids. (This one takes a bit of pre-planning but it's worth the extra work. I find that it's best not to clue in the late arriving party goer either. It really adds to the element of confusion.)
- "Yeah, about that... the kids refused to eat their veggies again so we sold them to the gypsies. Hey! Whatcha think of my new shoes?!"
- "A bum."
- Gasp, turn and look terrified at the hub. "Oh my God! I knew we forgot something!"
Friends with kids rarely ask who is watching our kids. If they do, they are usually looking for a babysitter recommendation. What is the most common question they ask us?
"When's your curfew?"