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coming soon… a new reality show

coming soon… a new reality show

July 6, 2006

About 15 years ago, Rob was interning at a firm his last semester at college. They had just offered him a full time position. We were invited to an informal party at the house of one of the partners.

We were young. We were unmarried. We had no children, and rather liked it that way.

One of the people at the party had a daughter who was about 2 years old. This child kept touching the food on the platter which was on the coffee table. The mother pretty much ignored her, laughed at all the obnoxious things the child did (which in retrospect weren’t all that obnoxious), and kept encourgaing the child to show off her cute tricks, like some sort of trained circus animal.

Rob and I didn’t say anything, but after we left the party, we turned to each other and both agreed that that chid was the most ill-behaved child we had ever seen in our lives. Of course at that point in our lives we really didn’t know any other children with which to gauge this brattiness.

A few years later Rob’s best friend came over to our house for a visit on Christmas Eve. He brought his two year old son. We were the parents of a newborn baby and therefore, still very confident in our superior parenting abilities. The boy kept touching our Christmas decorations. And having tantrums. And the crying. Good Lord the crying. I remember thinking, ‘Isn’t that child a little old to be behaving like that?’ After they left Rob and I were horrified. Our child would never behave that way. What a brat.

Two years later, when we had our own two year old, we apologized to Rob’s friend for our awful thoughts. Though his friend was slightly confused about what exactly we were apologizing for.

I hadn’t thought much about those incidents in the past few years. Most everyone we know at this stage of our lives has children. And while there are a few children that I know who would benefit from some sort of discipline, for the most art I have become immune to the annoying antics of children.

I can carry on a conversation while I have a child saying “Mom, mom, mom” over and over again six inches from my face.

I can listen to an interesting story while I send my death glare over to a child who is misbehaving and communicate telepathically to that child the consequences that will occur if he keeps up the behavior.

I can get up mid sentence to go help a child in the bathroom and return five minutes later and pick the conversation up with the next word in the sentence where I left off.

Sometimes I forget that these are skills that have been acquired through child birth and honed to perfection over time.

This weekend halloweenlover and her husband came over for dinner and a visit. And they brought their dogs who were incredibly cute and frankly if I had it to do over again I might have just gotten seven of those instead. Okay I’m kidding, mostly. I had a great time and really enjoyed visiting with them, but I couldn’t help but imagine after they left what the visit was like for them.

My daughter had to touch every single bit of food that I put out. She picked up the watermelon slices and tasted them all. My 18 month old son nibbled every single carrot stick that was out on the platter and then spit the chewed up bits onto the floor.

My son picked up her pocketbook and slammed it down on the floor as hard as he could. Luckily, inspite of the loud noise we heard, her Blackberry survived.

I heard myself say, “Show everyone how you do cartwheels!”

And I laughed when they drew with chalk all over the sunporch floor and monopolized the conversation. But I do now know everything there is to know about their dogs including their eating and bowel habits.

And I ignored it when they kept drinking soda, even though I had said no more soda.

You know that tv show, “What Not to Wear”… I felt like we were the parenting version. “How Not to Parent”

So I leave you with words of wisdom for those who visit me… when the food is served, grab what you want quickly, unless you like eating toddler handled leftovers. Keep all your expensive possessions on your person. Accept the fact that you will not utter a complete sentence uninterrupted for the duration of you stay in my home. And know that you will leave my house ready to sterilize yourself, unless you are already pregnant.

Then you will just be scared.

As you should be.

Posted by Chris @ 6:50 am  

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Comments

  1. onetallmomma says:

    Is it any wonder that we are not invited to friends homes for dinner very often? We have folks over and they tend to leave with a glassy eyed stare and a nervous twitch. There aren’t many families brave enough to invite my brood of 4 and myself over to dine.

  2. Gwen says:

    You gotta choose your battles. That’s all there is to it.

  3. Susan says:

    When my oldest was in elementary school, I joined the PTA. I was astounded at how many older moms were not there! “I’ve done that,” they said. I vowed that I wouldn’t give up when it was my youngest ones in school. Well, my next to youngest is going into 6th grade and I haven’t set foot in a PTA meeting for about 5 years. Never say never. It always comes back to bite you! Great story!

  4. Nicki says:

    You have just perfectly described why I don’t have friends over often anymore…or at least those without children. Why is it they always put on more of a show then. It’s nice to read that it is possible to get over the desire to have the floor open up and swallow me when my children do stuff in front of my childless friends. I just need to put a disclaimer on my front door!! Enter at own risk of: deafness by squealing, blindness by boring child tricks, muteness imposed by talkative toddlers.

  5. stacey says:

    hang in there really and truely it does get better in time.

  6. InterstellarLass says:

    I believe my children try to embarass me on purpose. Like when I took them back to a place I had had a work function. It was a putt-putt, race car place, so it’s not like I was expecting white-linen behavior from them. My boss happened to still be there. My daughter gets half-way through her root beer, then belches LOUDLY just as my boss asked her a question. Where’s that hole in the floor for me to crawl in again?

  7. Nicki says:

    Let me know if you find it InterstellarLass. I’m still looking for that hole!!!!

  8. Jean says:

    I once had someone say to me, “We’d love to have you over, but there are just too many of you.” That’s when we ‘only’ had five. Now there are nine.

    Jean

  9. jean says:

    Great story! I only invite people over who really like me already, then is NOT the time to impress!

  10. Annika says:

    Maybe there is something wrong with me - I have no problem eating toddler-chewed foods. I guess this is a good thing, since I haven’t been able to convince my son to stay newborn, which probably means he will be a toddler sometime around tomorrow.

  11. sarah says:

    this must be why people with children lose touch with their child-less friends. We are the only ones who can tolerate toddler-chewed foods.

    mine is only 2 months old, so i haven’t acquired your vast skill set as of yet, but I’m hoping!

  12. jody says:

    If the planets ever align, and fate has us up yonder, I will bring some hearty drinks and little paper umbrellas and we will get very relaxed as 11 kids sample the food and draw on the floor, and our husbands can cring together.

    Blackberries are over rated anyhow…..

  13. Kris says:

    Love this post, and Halloweenlover too. I’m sure your children charmed her despite their child-like behavior.

    It’s so funny how our perceptions of kids are so deluded before we our own. Brian and I were just remembering how we used to badmouth his cousin to each other for buying his son french fries. Oh my God, not FRENCH FRIES!! The horror! LOL.

    I can’t wait to learn how to ignore the “Mom mom mom” six inches from my face. That will be awesome!

  14. M&Co. says:

    Hhhhhhmmmmmm.

    I only have two and that sounds like a visit to my house.

  15. halloweenlover says:

    OH MY GOD, THE LIES. I have been in mid-writing the post for a couple of days without finding the time to finish, and now I will have to post a rebuttal.

    If you could have heard what Josh and I have been telling EVERYONE we’ve seen since Sunday, you’d be blushing. We left there saying to ourselves that we want to know what you feed them because they were SO WELL BEHAVED. They didn’t fight amongst themselves, they were sweet and polite and introduced themselves to us, they were gentle with the dogs, they were enthusiastic and funny, and adorable and beautiful children.

    We told my in-laws that if anyone could convince you to have 7 kids, it would be you. Seriously. I hope my baby will be half as sweet as any one of yours. They were honestly adorable.

  16. Darren says:

    I can’t wait to visit!

  17. owlhaven says:

    Great story!

  18. JIll says:

    I think this also rings true for grandparents…. They seem to forget what we were REALLY like 35 plus years ago as young kids. For some reason, my parents seem to think that I was reading by age 1, writing novels by age 2 and reciting the Gettysburg Address by 3 and a half. Yes, slightly exagerated, but I feel like my kids are looked through a microscope when they are whiney and out of sorts. God forbid they misbehave at their house!! Uggh!

  19. Susan says:

    LOL! Oh, yes, we were so smug in our determination to have perfect children who never did that. Life has a wicked, wicked sense of humor.

  20. Rebecca says:

    One of my aunts used to visit with my uncle whenever they got their irregular urges to have kids - apparently, being around me and my cousins made the organs of generation wither right up. Of course, that was long before the birth of my three “angelic” children….

  21. JustLinda says:

    I met my 2nd husband when my girls were 6 and 8 years old. Over the next two years (and, yes, I did marry him anyway) I would here him say on a very regular basis “My child will NOT do that.” or maybe “My child WILL do this.” I used to just nod and smile.

    When I finally got pregnant, I told the WORLD that I was so happy to be carrying the first perfect child in my own womb. Seriously, I couldn’t wait for this child who would not ever be ill-behaved or turn up his nose at vegetables.

    It hasn’t quite worked out the way he had it planned, but our daughter did start eating sushi when she was 2 or 3 years old.

  22. Rebekah says:

    This kind of kills me. My best friend has twins that I adore, but really only can handle in two to three hour doses because they are really high strung. I love, love, love these kids. They’re smart, funny (the real kind of funny, not just kid funny), cute and not especially irritating.

    I love their mother, too. Herein lies the problem. She’s my best friend and I want time with her. Not every time, not all of the time, just sometimes. I miss my best friend. Hopefully, she’ll return one of my calls soon in between baseball runs. She really needs to start picking her maid of honor dress.

    -Patient Childless Best Friend Who Doesn’t Mind Eating Half-Eaten McDonald’s Fries From the Floor of the Mini Van

  23. Jen says:

    We have the only two kids on the block, both boys. I’m convinced that they are cheap birth control for everyone else. The young married couples…boy, I feel for them. If I’d lived next to my boys before having kids, I probably would have gone and raised, oh, albino chinchillas or something.

  24. chris says:

    Awwwww, halloweenlover I am so happy to hear you had a good time. I know Rob and I did. Oh and the kids have NOT stopped talking about the dogs.

    As for what I feed the kids, you were here so you should know… lots and LOTS of sugar! ;-)

    And obviously you both are going to make fabulous parents because 13 years ago Rob and I would have RUN away from this house.

  25. kathryn, dym says:

    Our work friends are finally starting to have kids and it was amazing to go to the annual 4th of July celebration and NOT be the first ones to leave because of a melt-down. Ahhh… it’s nice when people start to understand you.

    If nothing else, parenting has made me much less judgemental.

  26. Terri says:

    It seems like I’m super sensitive to everything my daughter does when others are visiting. So I’m constantly apologizing when she swats her food away or tries to take the other kids toys away. Darn microscopes…

  27. Damselfly says:

    Thanks for that dose of reality. A child really puts things in a different perspective. ;)

  28. Katie says:

    Don’t forget how the children can be screaming bloody murder in another room and you’ll carry on a conversation unfazed because it’s not the “OMG call 911″ scream while your friends twitch and wonder what body parts the children are hacking off each other. Or is that just my house?

  29. Amy says:

    LOL! We don’t even have friends that don’t have kids anymore.

    Amy

  30. Meepers says:

    Hey! Wait! I MUST speak up and (gently and politely) disagree with Sarah! To wit: The reason many people lose touch with their childless friends: They are in the “mommy zone” and either are too tired/don’t think we have-nots would be interested, or can take the yelling. It isn’t always the case. For example:

    We have no kids.. yet I regularly eat chewed-on/pre-touched/served to me with toddler hands food. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been pooped/puked on. I can carry on at least one conversation at a time with multiple interuptions and small people hanging off my lap/hip/hair. My husband? Not so much, but he’s getting better all the time.

    Don’t abandon us, please? We still want to be friends!

    PS. I’d LOVE to meet all of you and see your house - if we were, say, anywhere on the East Coast I’d be trying to wangle an invitation to see you guys and the kids!

  31. Danielle says:

    The last time my friends were over was when all three kids were sick. The twins were trying to climb under my skin and Dexter was screaming bloody murder in the next room. I didn’t even notice that the kids were loud. That’s just part of being a mom.

  32. liz says:

    Ooooh, so jealous of your blogger playdate!

  33. busyHSmom says:

    I am so hard-headed that I managed to stay smug until #5. Can you believe that?! Finally, when I had 6 kids that were younger than 8 years old, the reality of it all truly hit me in the face. It was no longer me who was in charge. ((sigh))

    Now, I have 7, and 4 of them are teenagers. Let me repeat this so that you can truly appreciate what I just said and feel the sympathy that I deserve. 4 of them are teenagers, and one of them is 12 teetering on the brink of 13. (Oh, and if you want to really feel sorry for me, today I turned the dreaded 40!)

    I can assure you, I am no longer smug…well, except when I look at those younger parents with only one child who think to themselves, “Our baby will never act like that.” Then I smugly smile to myself and relish the thought that they too will one day face a rude awakening.

  34. CaliforniaGrammy says:

    Just want to let you young moms know that as we age we seem to totally “forget” all the obnoxious behavior our children may have had! Truly, I DID have the perfect children and now they have theirs whom I adore!

  35. Stephanie says:

    Is that why our friends with infants don’t call us anymore?

    I was wondering.

  36. Jen3 @ Amazing Triplets says:

    That pretty much sums it up.

    Can you also change a diaper while a child is standing up? I, myself, just recently mastered this task … while at a restaurant, on the table - nonetheless (and much to the chagrin of the people at the table next to us) and was thoroughly impressed with myself. Still am.

    Picking up a conversation mid-stream though, after a 5-minute potty break … that’ll take work.

  37. Jennifer says:

    I want to meet you too. If you’re ever in the area…

  38. Turtle says:

    My parents recently threw a 40th anniversary party and invited around 50 people. My sister brought her 3 kids under 10, who were actually really well behaved throughout all the kissing and coo’ing of old aunties who had never met them. Towards the end of the party, while dozens of us were singing around a bonfire, her oldest (9 years old) appeared in the firelight and said “Well - I just need to ask - when are you all going to go home?” I hope I was deep enough in the shadows that they didn’t see where all the laughter came from. Just like I didn’t see the look my sister undoubtedly sent me :)

  39. Roxann says:

    I love the part where you “heard yourself saying…show everyone your cartwheels”…I find myself doing this all the time, it’s almost as if we should carry around doggie treats! I love your blog, you and your family are awesome in my book.

  40. Erin says:

    I don’t have any kids but lack any ability to have overly high expectations for what my kids will be like since I work with kids so much and already am pretty used to their antics. And if I had a kid that never threw a tantrum or cried for no reason I would probably take them in for testing because they wouldn’t be like any of the kids I know. Its not the chewed up food that bothers me as much as when they just spit/slobber onto it and its something like chips that is odd to put into your mouth soggy. Then I root around to find a semi-dry one. And when we have a kid at camp that can do (or say) something cute/humerous we parade them around for the other counselors to show them off.

  41. Notes from the Trenches » When bloggers meet says:

    [...] But turns out I had to entertain them all on my own. Single people who do not have children. yes, should I write that again. They do not have any children and they were coming here to stay the night. talk about brave. Especially after what I wrote when halloweenlover came for a visit. [...]