Monday, May 31, 2010

Why It's Hard to Be Friends With People With Kids (and Vice Versa, Depending)

Contemplating the outside world

Ever wonder why moms are so excited to meet moms and make new mom friends?

It comes up now and then that people without kids feel like they never see their friends with kids, and these folks usually suspect that it's because the wee ones have taken over their friends' lives. And then you hear the people with kids saying they never see their unprocreated peeps like they used to, and I suspect that they suspect that their old friends have decided they're no longer fun.

But I discovered that, in most cases, neither group is right. People don't change all that much after having kids - yes, they devote a certain amount of attention and emotional energy to their progeny, but for the most part, parents are deep down still giggling at off-color jokes and so on. (Or, you know, whatever it was they liked to do before.) Mentally, we all stop at some age, no? For some people, it's 30. For me, it's probably 23. I don't do some of the things I did when I was 23, but I still think about those things. And I still laugh at off-color jokes.

So, nope, people with kids and people without kids don't magically lose the ability to find common ground. It's just that the people with kids are suddenly saddled with tiny drunken deconstructionists, whose intense curiosity appears to correspond with a raging death wish.

Stick my fingers in a socket? Sure! Climb up onto and then throw myself off the counter? Great idea! Shove a pencil up my nose? Excellent! What happens if I smash this? Or this? Or this? And for goodness sake, what does poison taste like? I need to know!
My theory is that the main reason people with kids and people without kids have trouble keeping in touch is that for a great long while there are all kinds of places that they can't be together that were once prime hangouts. Bars. Restaurants that don't start service until 6 p.m. Quiet places. Unchildproofed rooms. To give a specific example, I met up with some old peeps recently for a barbecue that sadly got rained out about an hour after I arrived. More than one person asked me if I'd be joining everyone else at the event organizer's place of residence. I had to decline, but not because I'm some old fuddy-duddy* who hates fun.

Nope, I had to decline because I had a 15-month old in tow who would have liked nothing better than to have been invited into a house with delicious and breakable wires, books, games with small pieces, consoles, and so on.

I guess you might consider this a public service announcement: When a parent with a child of a certain age declines an invitation, it's probably with your comfort, safety, and sanity in mind.

*Of course, having used the word fuddy-duddy makes me feel old and probably means I'm a fuddy-duddy.

6 comments:

  1. I think it's easier to invite people over who don't have kids though... because when we have friends with kids over, theirs plus ours = a big fat mess and constant wild, loud, play :)

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  2. But the question is, Courtney, how to lure over the people without kids!

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  3. All those fun, death wish ideas just summed up why the thought of having kids freaks me out!

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  4. @LambAround Ha! It gets pretty hairy once they learn to climb and figure out how to get past the toddler safety locks!

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  5. I decline things I want to do all the time - out for dinner at my favorite pub? No thanks, the stress of a crying baby disturbing my meal and everyone else's is not worth the few bites of amazing food I MIGHT be able to stuff in my mouth before the meal goes cold.

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  6. Sometimes this is really sad, though - if family plans differ, that should necessarily mean less friend time. But it does.

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