Saturday, December 19, 2015

Parenthood: Now With Science!

Tonight's cocktail can be with or without booze (I recommend bourbon), as the spirit moves you, or doesn't. Chanukah is already over for me and mine, but the wonders of Jewish Christmas (Chinese food and movies - yes, we really do that) await. Also, we still have another 2 weeks to drink eggnog. I'd like to be fancy and say I used Alton Brown's recipe, but I think we all know that I poured it straight from the carton. At least I used a glass.

This time.
"Eggnog2" by Dinner Series - Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons -

If you're a procrastinator like me and still have gifts to buy, and if you have any parents on your list, I'm here to solve a problem for you. Buy them all copies of Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations by Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler. Trust me on this. In the midst of the chaotic, sometimes-isolated, sleep-deprived blur that parenting can create, this book is a much-needed reality check because it illustrates the univeral whatthefuckness of it all. You're not the only one whose child invariably needs to poop for 30 minutes when you're about to be on time somewhere for once. You're not the only one whose child decides without notice to stop eating her favorite go-to meal, which you've just put in front of her. You're not the only one who does not get the point of travel sports. We are all dealing with the same crap from our beloved munchkins, and, when we're able to see how funny it all is, life becomes more manageable.

For example, while playdates with kids you and your kid both like, and whose parents you like, are awesome, the book excerpt below shows that it doesn't always work out that way:

Play dates. They should really be things of beauty and harmony. Or at the very least, simple convenience. After all, the idea is that Someone Else is entertaining your child so that you get a few hours of peace to do things like scroll through Facebook. Or read a book  (hint! hint!) Or enjoy the pure pleasure of holding a complete, coherent thought in your head.

But, to crib a bit from poet Robert Burns, the best laid plans for play dates often go awry. As I discovered one Saturday afternoon when I invited a girl from my son's class — a sweet, blonde girl I knew he had a crush on — to come rollerskating with us.

I'll admit, while I liked the classmate, I was kinda meh about Blonde Girl's Mom ever since my kid reported that while he'd been at her house for a play date, he'd spent the entire afternoon shooting virtual deer with a rifle while playing Big Buck Hunter. I wasn't familiar with that particular video game, but seeing my babysitter's eyes go wide when he described it was enough to let me know it was hardly an all-ages game. Still, he adored Blonde Girl, so I was willing to give the play date thing another go. I figured the kids could skate; Blonde Girl's Mom and I could spend a little Mom-To-Mom time getting to know each other. Who knew? Maybe we'd bond over a shared love of '70s and '80s roller rink muzak.

And well, not even close.

"My toddler's having a melt-down, so could you keep an eye on these kids while I take him home?" was how Blonde Girl's Mom greeted me at the skating rink door. No Hi. No Great to see you. Glad you made it. Just a string of words that came out so fast, it sounded like one really long word: Mytoddlershavingameltdownsocouldyoukeepaneyeonthesekidswhileittakehimhome?

Wait. What?

My eyes hadn’t even adjusted to the darkness of the skating rink. But I quickly saw what was going on. I'd invited her daughter to go skating with my son. And Blonde Girl's Mom had shown up with an entourage that included her daughter, her daughter's younger sister and the girls' two besties. And, oh yes, the toddler who was flailing around on the floor screaming like he was being filleted with long knives. And she wanted me to keep track of all of them in a dark rink?  On wheels? So she could go HOME? Oh, hell no!

In her defense, I could see that request being made in a moment of pure temporary insanity. We've all had that unnerving three-year-old-tantrum-in-a-public-place experience. (And if you haven't yet, don't worry, you will.) But the horrified look on my face and my flat refusal to be responsible for five kids in a dark rink, on wheels should have snapped her right back to reality. I mean, in your head that might sound like a plausible, even good, idea. But once the words are out of your mouth and you actually hear them, you gotta think, Of course not. That's just crazy talk.

As I proceeded to rent my kid skates, I wondered why my darling child didn't want to go skating with any of the kids whose parents I like to hang out with ... who'd never think of saddling a fellow mom with an unruly, unfamiliar brood so they could make a quick getaway.

Still, the afternoon could have been a lot worse. And there was a silver lining: It was unlikely that Blonde Girl’s Mom and I would be getting together again. Ever.  

Norine Dworkin-McDaniel is co-author with illustrator Jessica Ziegler of the new book Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations, published in November by She Writes Press. Follow Science of Parenthood on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Is Science of Parenthood coming to your town? Check out our tour schedule. Want Science of Parenthood to come to your town? Message us

*Note: I did receive a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review, which was easy to give because I snort-laughed through the whole thing. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post.*

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