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.