We like to party…we like, we like to party.
I apologize for invoking the Vengaboys, but even after 18 years, I STILL hear that song every time someone mentions a party. It’s terrible, but catchy as hell. You’re welcome for the ear worm.
It’s true though, we do like to party. We just have to manage things a little differently than we used to.
Or, from time to time these days, though I hate to admit it, we avoid them.
When we do bail, it’s generally a combination of situational factors (e.g., number of people, if there are kids, if the place is going to be filthy with pizza and ice cream, if there are little old ladies with good intentions trying to give our kid ice cream), and location (e.g., an Italian restaurant, an indoor playground smeared with years of pizza and ice cream residue, a cottage or camping event where emergency services may be unreliable).
We’re not any less social than we used to be. Life is busy, but we love the people in ours and we want to actually see them in a social capacity.
However, sometimes it feels a little overwhelming. Layered in with the factors above, is how much effort we feel like putting into prep and surveillance.
The surveillance is something all parents do when we’re fresh to the job and helicopter-y, but it generally fades as kids get bigger and more independent. With our son, we’re at a point where the right party, at the right house, allows us to release him into a toy-filled attic or basement along with all the other kids and it’ll all turn out ok. Our daughter is two and a half so she’s gaining a little independence, but usually wants to stay nearby, and we’re ok with that because the eight-year-old kids aren’t quite babysitting age (though some of the eight-year-olds we know are waaaayyy more grown up than some of the 38 year-olds we know).
In general, we’re pretty relaxed and will team up to check on the kids, bring them in line if needed, feed, water, change, etc. However, in certain crowds, at certain events, we have to kick things up a notch. Not surprisingly, when food comes out, our roles…intensify. While we haven’t gone full secret service yet (those ear piece communicators are expensive), we lock eyes, exchange hand signals for placement in relation to our charge, and establish clear sight lines around the room.
Once a cheese board or a bowl of dill pickle chips (yup…dairy in those) hits the coffee table, our daughter has a shadow: Someone to cut her off if she approaches the snack table. Someone to scan the room for used napkins or those tempting tiny plates that inevitably get sprinkled all over side tables and the arms of couches. We also scan for orange Doritos residue, chocolate or cookie crumbs, fruit that looks harmless but has been served near yogurt dip…you get the picture.
We do it as subtly as possible, but it’s a delicate balance between trying to keep an eye on her, attempting to maintain adult conversation, and tactfully executing a wipe down of any kids (or cuddly adults) who might make contact with the little one or things she’s likely to touch. If she ever goes into show biz, she’ll be well accustomed to the “starlet at a bar with a body guard” routine.
We hope it’s not creepy or weird or intrusive for others at the party. We don’t want to dictate how parties are thrown, or what’s there, or how others have to celebrate when we’re around. We don’t want people to groan when they find out we’re coming and that they have to accommodate us. We also don’t want people to make a huge deal out of it when we have been accommodated. I want to make it clear that we ALWAYS appreciate the good intentions of people making the effort, and the work it takes to do so. But…it can really feel like you’re putting people out when there’s a big “todo” about separating and substituting, or when kids are told “You can’t have that today because R is here.” We want our daughter accustomed to real life and real situations. But, man can it ever suck the fun out of a gathering when it becomes the focal point of your night.
HOWEVER, we are exceptionally fortunate, and New Years Eve this year was a heart busting reminder of that. We have amazing friends who, for several years now, have hosted a two-stage party where the kids get to celebrate a ball drop at 8pm and the grown-ups celebrate in a second shift once the kids (and some partners) have gone to bed.
Without really bringing it up, without fanfare, and absolutely without eye rolling or groaning, this amazing group of people (hosts, guests, and kids) quietly sorted out a snack menu that was completely safe and completely satisfying. There were fruit and veggie trays, and home made bread. We were asked to bring some dip to contribute. Friends brought guac and nachos. More friends showed up with locally made dairy-free tomato pizza. The hosts went out and found cashew-based “cheese” that was safe (only peanuts are an issue) and really really good. Packages were casually brought over for a quick inspection as needed. It wasn’t a thing. It just happened.
We went to the party, prepped and ready to break out our dark suits and hand signals…and promptly put that shit away and simply raised our glasses. When the kids went to bed, the grown-ups busted out the dairy (and maybe a little more booze), but while our daughter was there, we literally had nothing to worry about.
It may seem like a small thing to them, but the fact that it was thought of and done without hoopla or hullabaloo, or highlighting again and again what was being done because our daughter was there, was EVERYTHING. As I type, I’ve got warm, happy tears in my eyes because our friends are fucking fabulous. We love them dearly and it was so so so good to start the new year with the feeling that things were indeed, fine and dandy.
So, as we ring in a new year where the world in general is feeling less than warm and fuzzy, I leave you with the following message, originally put out by the Vengaboys, but dedicated to the people in our lives who so clearly have our backs:
Hey now, hey now, hear what I say now
Happiness is just around the corner
Hey now, hey now, hear what I say now
We’ll be there for you
You know the rest. Happy 2018!