Last night my husband, Jack, and I went to a last-minute “Let’s Eat Lasagne and Watch the Last Episode of the Sopranos” party at which our son, Jackson, was the only little kid. I’m not sure where my head was during the brief invitation-acceptance phase of this party, except that I must have thought something like, “He’s almost six! He’ll entertain himself!” This is an unfortunate tic I have that started the day after Jackson was born and I kind of just assumed that if he was hungry he’d go to the kitchen and make himself a sandwich. Yeah, so kids? They’re more time-consuming than I’d originally thought.
Jackson had fallen asleep in Jack’s truck on the way to the party, and when we got him inside he was groggy and suspicious and clinging to my neck like an orphaned chimpanzee. This made drinking champagne and making sparkling conversation a challenge, so I carried him into the TV room, dumped him on the couch with his stuffed penguin, and said, “Stay right here. I’m going to get you a Coke.”
I know! WHY NOT JUST GIVE HIM A SNORT OF BLOW, MOM? Listen, if we’d been at home he would have had a healthy snack and all the time in the world to sort himself out, but we weren’t. I needed him to get his act together and half a shot of caffeine and high fructose corn syrup would get him over the hump.
Ten minutes later he was on his feet and politely asking the host if we could turn on the air hockey table. Okay, so that worked! Parent hack! But who was he going to play with? My vague plan was still to cut him loose so I could try having one of those unheard of things called an adult conversation, but then I stopped and asked myself: “What Would D.O’B. Do?”
D.O’B. is an old girlfriend of Jack’s who has repeatedly abandoned an entire room full of fascinating, available men to play Legos with my fascinating, available son. She is unabashedly all about kids, though she has none of her own. So as I stood in our hosts’ TV room holding a big, sweaty glass of pinot grigio with Jackson looking up at me, waiting to see whether I’d park him in front of an out-of-the-way TV or treat him like he deserved to have fun like the rest of us, I felt like this could be another one of those little turning points in childhood where you remember the kindness of an adult who puts you first.
So we played air hockey AND jumped on the trampoline, and then the hosts’ thirteen-year-old daughter came home from her volleyball team party and I quietly faded into the woodwork while Jackson followed her around like a puppy and left me alone so I could see a car roll over a guy’s head. Afterward, Jack gave the daughter $20.00. We’re going to call her next time we need one of those “babysitter” things? I’ve heard they’re really useful.