Interesting fact: barring a couple exceptions, we see a lot more of our friends without children than our friends who are parents. I’d started noticing the trend a while back. I think it’s rather simple, really: we aren’t so rigorously scheduled – and our friends without children (nor intense schooling/dual-income schedules) have (or make) time as well. I’d previously thought often of my adult friends and what lovely parents they might become, if they so chose… Now seeing how things often go I feel a pang, wondering if they were to have children of their own if they’d disappear or if we could still be a part of their lives. Parenting new babies, for many it’s hard to go out in the world.
Today Nels and Jasmine texted all day long about the “rock hunt” they were going to go on in her back yard. I’m taking so. much. texting (on his part especially) and so. much. heckling (by him, at me) – he just really wanted to make sure the date happened as planned. While Phoenix set off on foot to pay our garbage bill, Nels and I listened to music in the kitchen and cooked up a storm. We made Chinese cabbage salad, from-scratch sweet and sour chicken (using fresh pineapple!), pork and vegetable fried rice (again, all from scratch), black tea, and red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting (Nels elected to dye the frosting pink). I have one frying pan, and this was a fry-centric meal, so it took a while longer than I’d planned.
At six we were joined by my mom and fellow Tweep and friend Justin and we ate and talked well into the night. Amber and Jasmine joined us after the GHC Winter Art Gala and a shift at Casa Mia, respectively, and as promised took The Boy out. Nels was Excited Times One Hundred.
When they got home Amber asked to take pictures of our son with his favorites.
I kind of love that he gathered up his “conch shell”, pyrite, and obsidian, leaving only the ignatius rock out. Awkward.
Nels and I have not been getting along. All my fault, seriously, but I can’t quite figure it out. Yet.
He’s been relating a pretty fabulous day to me, though. While peeling carrots (he’s very skilled at obtaining results but makes quite a mess, which he then cleans up assiduously) he said, “Do you know what I like about myself? That I have such good parents.” (I’m not fucking kidding!) He then went on, “You help me with things that are difficult, like tying shoes. You spend time with me and do interesting things with me.” Then he thought for a while and started naming things he’d observed other parents do, that he didn’t think were so fabulous. I kept mum through it all, I mean besides acknowledging I’d heard him. Because really? It’s his life, his experience.
At dinner he ate two huge helpings of the pork / veggie fried rice and shouted it was “Awesome!” Later he took a cup of it into the bathtub. According to Ralph, only two grains of rice were spilled.
So yeah, you know? This parenting thing is pretty okay lots of the time.
Interesting that it’s your friends who aren’t parents that make the time. It’s different with us, although we typically socialize with other married military couples – ’cause that’s who we know – and odds are that they have at least 1 child, if not several. Our friends who don’t have kids are usually so busy with work/travel/ time together that they don’t seem to have the time for activities which are kid-friendly. When we lived in Germany it was so much easier to just get together with friends when you had kids – biergartens are incredibly child-friendly, believe it or not! Maybe Europe is more kid-friendly, in some ways?
The meal sounds delicious, but it sounds like the prep was at least as fun – especially the conversation. How awesome that he can articulate what he likes about himself and that it’s actually the time that you spend with him! Clearly it’s part of what makes him a great kid. And I bet it was one of the best things you heard that day, right? Those moments are so ephemeral and yet stay with us for so long – truly the memories that make parenting worthwhile.
I can imagine as a military family you have a community kind of created for you. Is a biergarten a beer garden? There’s a US myth you can’t have kids in those. But in PT there was an excellent brewery that had a kid-friendly beer garden. It was so cool!
Sometimes it seems Europe might be more child-friendly, but it’s hard for me to say (for instance homeschooling is illegal or less protected in many parts of EU including Germany, and in my opinion forced institutionalism isn’t super child- or family-friendly). Laura at Authentic Parenting had a great perspective on this last fall.
“And I bet it was one of the best things you heard that day, right?”
Yes, it really was!
I’m off now, we have some food to deliver together… and a post coming up about that!
Yes, a biergarten is a beer garden. And I’ve seen German women nursing there while sipping a cold one, which is hilarious, since the Americans generally frown on that. The best one for us was right up the hill from our apartment complex, through a small wooded area. Great kids play area that they actually expanded to have a larger play set. That was called the Schiesshaus, which translates literally as “the shooting house” but means “the hunting lodge”. They had an interior for cold weather but the decor wasn’t to my taste – too many mounted heads on the wall. They did have an awesome noodles and spring mushroom dish that was to die for… Then there was one across town called Teufel’s HÃ¶hle, which translates as Devil’s Hole. They also had a great kids’ playground.
It’s the beer halls that you generally don’t take kids to, although there is one in Munich which is really touristy and supposedly isn’t rowdy at all. Beer halls are generally filled with heavily drunken people, I’m told. I think in general it’s more common to see families out with their kids at nicer restaurants in Germany and also in the Netherlands. The Dutch are fairly family and child-friendly, imho, but I could be biased since the majority of my Dad’s family still lives there.
I don’t know about public schooling in Germany but I do know that they have an awesome preschool setup that was just about the best thing ever. Maeve loved it – they spent tons of time outside doing nature walks, sledding in the winter, collecting leaves in the fall, playing in the kiddie pools in the early summer and generally having a great time. It wasn’t at all structured the way that American preschool is – no learning of letters or whatnot -and the classrooms were mixed ages, so the bigger kids helped the little kids out. They were allowed to do a lot more, I think. There was some special stuff for the bigger kids in the year before they started first grade, but again it wasn’t about sitting down and learning in the traditional sense.
“Iâ€™ve seen German women nursing there while sipping a cold one, which is hilarious, since the Americans generally frown on that”
More and more I think USians just want a certain code of conduct in PUBLIC. We don’t care if you’re beating your kids or drinking every night as long as you don’t inconvenience the general populace with your drama / gauche behavior. I know I sound cynical. But sometimes I *am* cynical!
I also think US preschools used to be more play-oriented than they are now – heavy pressure to be academic or pre-academic. I’ve become very interested in play because I’m noticing anecdotally, and reading a few brain/bioscience pieces talking about how much is learned through play.