Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Breakaway

When it comes to parenting, there are all kinds of new fangled things going on that weren’t happening when we started our family a few short years ago.

Notably, the “Babymoon” is a little vacation taken by expectant parents, a sort-of last hoorah, before the baby comes. I guess our little whirlwind trip to Gatlinburg would qualify as a Babymoon, it just wasn’t called that. (Spoiler alert: If you young ‘uns think a long weekend at Gulf Shores is going to prepare you for the journey ahead, think again, suckas. Call me when you’ve gone three or four days without a shower or sleep and we’ll talk about Gulf Shores. I will remind you what a fabulous accomplishment it is that it’s only taken you 72 hours to get that load of whites folded.)
The “Dadchelor party” is a reason for dads-to-be to get with their guy friends and hang out before a baby crashes into his life and poker games become few and far between. I still don’t really get how it started, but nothing says “Good Daddy” like a Vegas-style throw-down with your frat-bros.
The “Push Gift” is a bauble of some kind given to a wife, from her husband, apparently for doing a good job in getting the baby out. A friend of mine got diamond earrings from Tiffany & Co. It never crossed my mind to want or need jewelry for appropriate pushing. I mean, I came away with a baby human. That seemed pretty good to me.
Other ideas are more mainstream, even manageable—if you are doing them during the second trimester of your first pregnancy, when energy levels return and you’re sporting the cutest Liz Lange fashions ever. (Seriously, am I the only one who wishes I could still buy those adorable tops and dresses?) Journals, photographs and letters are all very sweet when you have plenty of time to flip through the Pottery Barn Kids catalog and convince yourself that, in real life, children’s book shelves really do contain only four hardback Caldecott winners, a stuffed bear and an antique jewelry box. You’ll wise up, don’t worry.
Later, when you’ve gotten the hang of having children, you’ll be faced with the most ridiculous and asinine of parenting issues to date: The Brat Ban. Yes, folks, there is a movement to actually BAN CHILDREN FROM PUBLIC SPACES and it is being referred to by our sensitive and intelligent media as a Brat Ban. Increasingly, restaurants, theaters and airplanes are trying to ban kids. Is somebody kidding me with this? Airplanes?
That is not to say that there aren’t places where kids do not belong. If you are hosting a paintball tournament, dining at Coyote Ugly, or conducting a covert, special-ops rescue with a bunch of Navy Seals, get a sitter. Going to the Oscars? Leave the diaper bag—and its owner—at home. Celebrating a romantic holiday with your baby-daddy? Go ahead and farm them out for sleepovers with friends .
But if you’re going to the post office, grabbing a bite to eat or flying on a plane, your progeny should be allowed to tag along. There are restaurants that most thinking parents wouldn’t choose to visit with small children. But as emerging members of this society, they shouldn’t be relegated only to places with indoor playgrounds and dino-shaped nuggets, should they? You shouldn’t be eyed with disdain by business folks on a flight to Orlando for having kids along. Quite the contrary: everyone knows that a flight to Orlando is tantamount to a flight to Neverland, as Orlando is the center of the universe for every family with kids in America. Really, it is. MapQuest directions to Orlando state simply to go to the “second star to the right, and straight on ‘til morning.”  I swear, you turn Dr. Phil loose with a topic for half a second and the next thing you know, children can’t even go anywhere.
Kevin and I have been married for 18 years and have been parents for over 12. I assure you, there are no Tiffany blue bags laying around with rewards inside. As best I can tell, Kevin doesn’t have plans to rival The Hangover any time soon, unless the church men’s retreat boasts more chutzpah than I thought possible. (Full disclosure: I will say the church women’s retreat could raise a few eyebrows, but to my knowledge, so far no one has been banned from anywhere.)
While we fully support the assimilation of children into the culture at large, we know too well that, sometimes it’s not the general public, but the Mommy and Daddy who need a minute. Therefore, we have revived a long-adored parenting concept to save families and strengthen marriages, and given it an adorable mash-up name: The Spring Breakaway.
The basic concept of Spring Breakaway is simple. The kids get to stay with Mimi, which thrills them. We get to recharge our batteries, make eye contact and hold uninterrupted conversations at establishments where we could care less what the rules are about children, which thrills us. Everybody wins.
Just last week we had dinner with friends—kids included. Yes, we took up some space. Yes, the children got a little rowdy, especially when the cheese dip and salsa ran out or got stuck in someone’s hair. Yes, we felt for the couple whose booth backed up to the eight (yes, eight) kids we had crammed in one booth. They were cajoled, bumped, shoved, and, at least once, kicked with a soccer cleat. They handled it like champs, though, smiling and ducking at just the right times. Afterward, a few of us moms approached them, and offered to buy them a round of margaritas for being so patient.
So, yeah, the kids were loudish. But they weren’t unfit to be in public. I dare say the beer-swilling ruffians a few tables away caused more of a stir. And good for them for taking time to get together. After all, the way they were doing jello shots and rounds of tequila, it was probably a very sweet, tender moment at a well-planned Dadchelor party.

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