Last week my five year old was invited to a party. He said what he always says, that he didn’t want to go “by himself.” He considers the company of his whole class “by himself”. Instead of his dads sensible response suggesting he stay at home and venture out on the party circuit next year, in Senior Infants, I say that I will go to the party with him. And that I will stay there until he tells me it is ok for me to leave. On the one hand, I get out of our house on a Saturday and escape the vacuuming/laundry because its Saturday versus lounging on couch reading because its Saturday debate. On the other hand, once I get there I feel like a bit of an eegit, parked at the kitchen table with a cup of tea, trying very hard not to furtively inspect the house. A friend of mine once said that going anywhere with me was like hanging out with a detective. Apparently, when dining out my eyes are always darting all over the restaurant, and I constantly eavesdrop on the conversations of the people at nearby tables. We were eating out when she told me so I didn’t hear her the first time, obviously. Anyway, at the party I was really doing my best to control my nosiness.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could look around people’s houses the way kids do. They march in and immediately start scanning the place like an estate agent, taking square footage, number of reception rooms, value and age bracket of toys, up to date-ness of game consoles and age rating on games. They pick things up and put them down until they feel they have a good approximation of the property. And that is what the kids were doing here. Every now and again my son passes and gives me a tiny, almost imperceptible shake of his head that means “Suck it in. You’re not leaving anytime soon.” Effectively, I am a hostage.
I nurse my cooling tea and watch the party progress. I’ve done this a few times and have to hand it to other couples, they always seem so symbiotic compared to us. They work together, as a team, doling out food, filling cups, organising queues at the face painter, finding party bags, smiling at every one and each other. This couple were more or less finishing each others sentences. If my husband and I did that they would sound like this
“I’ll be home from work at .. the last time I’m hanging your coat up for you. What do you think those hooks are for?”
“Have you eaten those two squares of Golden Crisp that were on the .. key of the car is supposed to be in the drawer. I’m pretty sure you were the last person driving.”
Oh well. I ended up staying for the whole party, never coming close to being granted release. We drove home in silence, him digging into the party bag, me wondering if I should clean the microwave. I asked if he might try to go to a party by himself the next time. “No.” he answered, while thoughtfully chewing a cola flavoured Wham bar, “I think the next time I just won’t go at all.”
So what is the moral of that story? Wait until Senior Infants? Listen to your husband? I decided to be the bigger person and tell him he was right. And from now on I will listen to him and we will operate in a symbiotic bubble of kindness and cooperation and joy. That is of course, if he’s got the vacuuming done by the time I get home.